No hajj until Saudis guarantee safety of Iranians: MP

May 13, 2016

TEHRAN – Head of the Majlis Foreign Policy Committee has said he will not back sending pilgrims to Mecca, conditioning any reconsideration upon Saudis’ tighter safety measures for Iranians.

“Members of the Majlis committee have come to the conclusion that no hajj pilgrimage be made until Iranians can make their pilgrimage in safety,” Tasnim quoted Hamid Ahmadi as saying on Friday.

Tension between Tehran and Riyadh has been escalating after 464 Iranians lost their lives in a stampede in the area of Mina in September 2015 during the last hajj.

The MP’s comment came days after the Iranian Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization, the body responsible for annual hajj pilgrimage,     briefed the parliamentary body on the latest developments in talks with Saudis.

A delegation from Tehran held four days of talks in Saudi Arabia last month aimed at thrashing out a deal for Iranians to go to Mecca this year.

“Visa issuance in a third country and transfer of Iranian pilgrims by non-Iranian airlines, as demanded by Saudis, are not acceptable,” Ahmadi underscored.  

Reportedly, Saudis had raised in negotiations with Iranians some limitations, which Ahmadi branded as “contrary to the dignity of Iranians”.

This is while Ministry of Hajj and Umrah of Saudi Arabia announced that the Iranian delegation had refused to sign an agreement regarding the planned arrangements for this year’s pilgrimage season.

Prior to the remarks, the Iranian Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization had announced a missing of this year’s annual hajj, accusing Saudi Arabia of sabotaging arrangements.

The hajj standoff is fueled by Tehran and Riyadh being at loggerheads over other issues, notably the conflicts in Syria and Yemen in which they support opposing sides.

While Saudi Arabia and other Arab states have been backing the militant groups in Syria who have been fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad since 2011, Iran has been supporting the Syrian government nonstop.


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