Anti-Iranian Hajj comments trending on Twitter

Anti-Iranian Hajj comments trending on Twitter
With tensions escalating between Tehran and Riyadh, hundreds of Saudis have taken to Twitter.
2 min read
14 September, 2016
Iran claims at least 464 Iranian nationals were killed during last year's hajj [AFP]
Escalating tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran about the deadly crush at last year's Hajj pilgrimage have taken a twist after hundreds of Twitter users from the Gulf delved into the war of words.

Many Saudis have said they were happy with the absence of Iranian pilgrims at this year's pilgrimage in Mecca, after Tehran banned citizens from attending the festival in Saudi Arabia.

The hashtag "Hajj Without Iran is Organised and Safe" (in Arabic: الحج_بدون_ايران_تنظيم_وامان) began trending on Twitter with some users making derogatory comments about Shia Muslims and claiming that Sunni Muslims conduct themselves "better" than Iranians during Hajj.

Others claimed that the absence of Iranian pilgrims at this year's Hajj meant that proceedings were running more smoothly.

Some Twitter users - mostly from the Gulf region - said they hoped that Iranian pilgrims would not attend the Hajj in future.

It highlighted the vast divide between some some Sunni and Shia Muslims, which has led to fighting and sectarian massacres between the two groups in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere.

The diplomatic row between Iran and Saudi Arabia was fuelled by last year's deadly Hajj crush in Mecca, which led to the deaths of more than 2,000 pilgrims.

Iran claims at least 464 Iranian nationals were killed. However, Saudi Arabia has been accused of underplaying the total number of dead and put the official death toll at 769, drawing anger from Tehran.
Saudi officials blamed some of the pilgrims for the crush and said they failed to follow directions at the entrance of a site in Mina in Mecca, leading to overcrowding.

Tensions were further stoked after Saudi Arabia executed Saudi Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr in January, leading to the two countries to eventually break ties. In August, Tehran executed at least ten Sunni Muslim prisoners held on terrorism charges, despite claims they were convicted based on confessions elicited under torture.

In May, Iran issued a blanket ban prohibiting Iranian nationals from travelling to Saudi Arabia to perform the Hajj, a pilgrimage which all Muslims who are able to are expected to perform at least once.