Iran not to send Hajj pilgrims, blames Saudi

By AFP
Published: May 29, 2016
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Iranians will not take part in this year's Mecca pilgrimage Iran's Culture Minister Ali Jannati said on Sunday. PHOTO: REUTERS

Iranians will not take part in this year's Mecca pilgrimage Iran's Culture Minister Ali Jannati said on Sunday. PHOTO: REUTERS

TEHRAN: Iranians will not take part in this year’s Mecca pilgrimage because of “obstacles” raised by Saudi Arabia, custodian of Islam’s holiest sites, Iran’s Culture Minister Ali Jannati said Sunday.

In the latest dispute between the two regional rivals, “after two series of negotiations without any results because of obstacles raised by the Saudis, Iranian pilgrims will unfortunately not be able to take part in the hajj” pilgrimage, expected to take place this year in September, he said, quoted by state television.

Saudi officials have said an Iranian delegation wrapped up a visit to the kingdom on Friday without reaching a final agreement on arrangements for hajj pilgrims from the Islamic republic.

Hajj row escalates as Iran and Saudi Arabia miss new deal

The Saudi hajj ministry said it had offered “many solutions” to meet a string of demands made by the Iranians in two days of talks.

Agreement had been reached in some areas, including to use electronic visas which could be printed out by Iranian pilgrims, as Saudi diplomatic missions remain shut in Iran, it said.

Riyadh cut ties with Tehran in January after Iranian demonstrators torched its embassy and a consulate following its execution of a prominent Shiite cleric.

Shia Iran and predominantly Sunni Saudi Arabia are at odds over a raft of regional issues, notably the conflicts in Syria and Yemen in which they support opposing sides.

Iran ends hajj talks in Saudi without final deal

Earlier this month, Iran had accused its regional rival of seeking to “sabotage” the hajj, a pillar of Islam that devout Muslims must perform at least once during their lifetime if they are able.

Tehran said Riyadh had insisted that visas for Iranians be issued in a third country and would not allow pilgrims to be flown aboard Iranian aircraft.

But the Saudi hajj ministry said Friday that Riyadh had agreed to allow Iranians to obtain visas through the Swiss embassy in Tehran, which has looked after Saudi interests since ties were severed in January.

Riyadh also agreed to allow some Iranian carriers to fly pilgrims to the kingdom despite a ban imposed on Iranian airlines following the diplomatic row between the two countries, the ministry said.

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Last week’s talks were the second attempt by the two countries to reach a deal on organising this year’s pilgrimage for Iranians after an unsuccessful first round held in April in Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi ministry said at the time that the Iranian Hajj Organisation would be held responsible “in front of God and the people for the inability of its pilgrims to perform hajj this year.”

Another contentious issue has been security, after a stampede at last September’s hajj killed about 2,300 foreign pilgrims, including 464 Iranians.

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Reader Comments (8)

  • Farhan
    May 29, 2016 - 2:26PM

    Shouldn’t have burnt the embassy.Recommend

  • Insider
    May 29, 2016 - 2:31PM

    So basically Iran’s concern is the security of its citizens performing Hajj. I don’t see Saudi’s fault in this fiasco, they are right, Iran is trying to politicize the Hajj and cash in the already mounting global pressure on Saudi govt. Recommend

  • wiserneighbour
    May 29, 2016 - 2:35PM

    Instead of complete control by a family ruled country,muslims should press for city state country of Makkah and Medina.Independent like Vatican.It can survive with its own pilgrimage revenue generated.A better management of pilgrims and rituals are possible.Extra money generated can be used to fund charities after all the expenses met.And proper meaning of Islam should be propagated through these activities not what currently circulated to suit individual requirements.Recommend

  • Rex Minor
    May 29, 2016 - 5:42PM

    The House of Saud should allow all Iranians to perform the Haj who have been granted permission by the Iranian Government.in accordance to te quota limitation as provided by the Saudi authorities No additional controls are necessary at the port of entry for the Iranians.
    Respect for the Ummah who venture to make their journey to receive the cosmic blessings.

    Rex Minor Recommend

  • Bunny Rabbit
    May 29, 2016 - 7:37PM

    Good move . Iran has showed it does not need KSA for anything and everything . Recommend

  • Raj - USA
    May 29, 2016 - 8:14PM

    Not a good decision by Iran.

    Saudis started it but then they tried to pacify Iran but Iran is trying to inflame.

    Holy places and rituals like pilgrimage should be kept out of any dispute. Recommend

  • John
    May 29, 2016 - 8:37PM

    Just another example of how when u get down to it politics trumps religion every time. Unfortunately it seems makes sense to everybody except the devout. Wake up people!Recommend

  • vinsin
    May 30, 2016 - 12:24AM

    @wiserneighbour:
    And what about Arab Pagans? Vatican made by Christians.Recommend

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