Nine-fold rise in number of pilgrims crossing Mehran border: official

October 5, 2019

TEHRAN – Ahmad Karami, head of the Arba’een Headquarters in Ilam Province, has said there has been a nine-fold rise in the number of Iranian pilgrims who travel to Iraq through the Mehran border crossing.

Some 35,000 pilgrims left Iran to visit Iraq’s holy sites or returned to the country via the Mehran border crossing in the western province of Ilam on Friday, Tasnim on Saturday quoted Karami as saying.

He also said the recent unrest in Iraq has had no impact on the arrival or departure of pilgrims in and from the border crossing.

The official pointed out that the passage of travelers is happening smoothly and in complete security.

The remarks come amid sporadic unrest in a number of Iraqi cities in recent days.

The death toll from days of violent demonstrations across Iraq has soared to at least 70, security and medical sources said.

Iran has expressed sorrow over the violent protests.

An Iranian cleric said on Friday that arrogant countries who are unhappy with the Arba’een march are trying to disrupt the annual event.

“Arba’een is an event that has gained the attention of the world but the arrogance (a term used by Iranian officials to refer to the U.S. and its allies) does not want this to happen,” Ayatollah Emami Kashani said during Friday Prayers in Tehran.

Emami Kashani said the enemies try to disrupt the Arba’een march because it gathers millions of Muslims from across the world and “this they cannot tolerate.”

Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi has expressed regret that the ongoing protests have become violent, saying he is ready to meet with representatives of the protesters to discuss their demands.

Speaking on Thursday night, the Iraqi prime minister said certain elements have been able to derail the protests from their peaceful path.  

He said there was no “magic solution” to issues such as graft, unemployment and corruption but he would begin passing a law for basic income to be meted out to poor families.

MH/PA

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