TAMPA, FL (WFLA) – In Tampa, thousands of people gathered at the Florida State Fairgrounds to mark the end of Hajj, a holiday known as Eid ul-Adha.
Hassan Shibly, the Executive Director of Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR) said this is the largest gathering of muslims in the Tampa Bay area.
“It’s the most diverse annual gathering that’s in the region. We have people from every race, color and culture to honor God and honor the sacrifice of Abraham,” Shibly said.
Thursday’s prayers come on the same day that 717 people were trampled to death and another 805 injured outside Mecca in Saudi Arabia. Saudi’s prime minister says it appears to have been caused by two waves of pilgrims meeting at an intersection.
Those deaths came two weeks after a crane accident there killed 100 people.
In Tampa, Shibly said they are praying for the families of those who died. “We definitely grieve though those that lost their lives. And we pray god has mercy on them.”
This isn’t the first such tragedy at Mecca. In 1990, 1,426 Muslim pilgrims suffocated or were trampled to death during the annual pilgrimage.
“You literally have 2 or 3 million people doing the exact same thing at the same exact time, so such accidents are unfortunately unavoidable,”
Others said, because they died, in a holy pilgrimage, they consider them martyrs.
“Of course God chose to take them back at a time when they were closest to him and they were worshipping so we have the best hope for them and we pray for their families.”