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Study proposes expansion of first floor mataf

JEDDAH: A comprehensive study has been prepared for the expansion of the mataf (the circumambulation area around the Holy Kaaba) to reduce congestion.

Col. Yahya Al-Zahrani, commander of the security force at the Grand Mosque in Makkah told Al-Watan Arabic daily that the mataf expansion would be carried out on the first floor of the Grand Mosque and its terrace in order to reduce crowding on the ground floor.

“We don’t know exactly how many worshippers can be accommodated on the ground floor of the mataf,” he said.

He pointed out that measures would be taken to avoid crowding in the area by stopping those not wearing ihram from entering the area.

Speaking on the issue of worshippers reserving space inside the Grand Mosque for prayer, especially in the front rows, Al-Zahrani said Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal had set up a committee to end this negative phenomenon and punish those practicing it. Reserving place inside the mosque for taraweeh and qiyamullail prayers has become a common practice for the past several years.

“The committee started work on the first night of Ramadan,” he said, adding that 2,800 additional police officers and 25 special security officers have been deployed to beef up his force.

He emphasized the role of the operation room at the mosque in identifying crowding of worshippers in different spots and taking necessary action to disperse them. “The operation room monitors movement of worshippers in every part of the mosque.”

Referring to the problems caused by the entry of wheelchairs into the mataf, the officer said: “We have prevented entry of those vehicles into the mataf from Asr to the end of taraweeh prayers but some wheelchair-ridden pilgrims still insist on taking them in, causing harm to others.”

Al-Zahrani said security officers inside and outside the Haram have been instructed to deal with worshippers in a pleasant manner.

“Every Monday we give them lectures on how to deal with pilgrims and how to help them. Our officers have responded positively to these instructions,” he said.

“There are some pilgrims who do not cooperate with security officers and insist on violating the regulations. Some of them even attack security officers,” he added. He also pointed that complaints against security officers have reduced considerably.

Source: By ARAB NEWS
Published: Aug 3, 2011
Study proposes expansion of first floor mataf – Arab News.

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