600+ die in Iraq stampede

Iraq just gets worse and worse - this apparently was triggered by mortar fire and panic about suicide bombers.


Good example of spin from the new Iraqi government.

What happened has nothing at all to do with any sectarian tension” - Defence Minister Saadun al-Dulaim

No, nothing at all, apart from the fact that they were attacked by mortars earlier, and the fear of sectarian violence caused them to panic, leading to mass death. No connection there.

He sounds just like Blair saying, “No, no, no, no, no there is no, absolutely no connection between the invasion of Iraq and the July 7th bombing. None at all.” I can see where the new Iraqi politicians get their cues.

Uh people die in pilgrimage stampedes in the Middle East every friggin year. Not saying that a general mob panic and stampede by pilgrims in a tight place because of something other than an insurgent attack didn’t happen here, but this is not a rare occurrence.

— Alan

600+ people die in pilgrimage stampedes every year in the Middle East? Really?

It’s happened twice in my living memory, but this number is higher than the others I believe. But even so, commenting that it happens every year seems pretty callous. People die in hurricanes every year, but we are still interested to hear of their safety in New Orleans.

In huge numbers perhaps not, but yes people die due to crushing and stampeding for religious pilgrimages in the Middle East pretty much every year. IIRC this is at least the second time in Iraq alone since early 2003.

I was responding to the notion that somehow Iraq was getting worse because of a pilgrimage stampede, no matter the cause, happens a lot. It doesn’t necessarily mean Iraq is “getting worse.”

— Alan

This is not unheard of. In Saudi Arabia in 1990 they lost 1,420 lives in a human stampede in Mina during the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

Good point. How can we be certain it was really mortar fire that [edit] set the stage for the panicked stampede? My theory is that they were really fireworks of celebration and thanks for all the U.S. has done for them. It’s all a big misunderstanding. Our victory grows ever more glorious.


It is exceptionally unusual for 600+ to get stampeded to death because they fear a suicide bomb is about to go off – even in Iraq. From what I’ve read from people in Iraq (e.g. Robert Fisk) things are indeed getting worse; this event is hardly an isolated event, but rather a symptom of the broader anarchy that reigns there.

I wonder how many times throughout history something has had to be ‘getting worse’ that actually was the catalyst for a massive reform.

Maybe it’s just me but “getting worse” is kind of a catchphrase. It has no real meaning because it’s situational and rarely does it take into consideration all the factors.

Especially with anything political which is inherently suspicious.

I was responding to the notion that somehow Iraq was getting worse because of a pilgrimage stampede, no matter the cause, happens a lot. It doesn’t necessarily mean Iraq is “getting worse.”

It does suggest it is pretty bad, however, that so many would die through fear of an attack from an opposing sect. I mean the Sunnis fired mortars and rockets into a crowd of civilians - do you not think that is a little bit problematic? Do you think that is evidence that the stampede was the result of sectarian tension? Or do you think that hundreds would have died anyway, and they were just waiting for the right moment to start trampling each other to death?

The big catastrophes have all happened in Saudi Arabia so far, where a major city’s worth of pilgrims turn up every year at the same time. A disaster of this proportions in Iraq is pretty unusual, especially when the cause is mortars being fired into the crowds. If it isn’t evidence of the situation getting worse in Iraq, it would suggest that the situation there is already pretty terrible, don’t you think?