Riyadh hits back at Iran in latest Hajj-related bickering
Saudi Arabia accused Iran of seeking to politicise this year's Hajj pilgrimage, after Tehran urged Muslims to 'reconsider' the Saudi management of Islam's holiest sites, in the latest bickering between the regional rivals.
Riyadh hit back at remarks made by Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khaminei earlier on Monday, which saw the cleric accuse the Saudis of blocking Iranian pilgrims from this year's Hajj and of "murdering" pilgrims.
However, Riyadh said "Iranian authorities are the ones who don't want the Iranian pilgrims to come here for reasons concerning the Iranians themselves and in light of them seeking to politicise Hajj and turn it into rituals against Islam's teachings and that compromise the safety of Hajj," the state news agency SPA quoted Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef as saying.
Earlier on Monday, Khaminei said "Saudi rulers... who have blocked the proud and faithful Iranian pilgrims' path to the Beloved's House, are disgraced and misguided people who think their survival on the throne of oppression is dependent on defending the arrogant powers of the world, on alliances with Zionism and the US and on fulfilling their demands."
However, sources from the Saudi Ministry of Hajj revealed to The New Arab that there are about four thousand Iranian pilgrims who have entered Saudi Arabia from Europe, New Zealand, US, Australia and other parts of the world, to take part in this year's annual Hajj despite Iran's refusal to sign an agreement earlier this year.
"What Iranian media and some Iranian officials are raising is not objective and they know before anyone else that the kingdom has given the Iranian pilgrims what it gave others," Prince Mohammed bin Nayef said.
|Four thousand Iranian pilgrims who have entered Saudi Arabia from Europe, New Zealand, US, Australia and other parts of the world, to take part in this year's annual Hajj|
Last year's deadly stampede - which figures suggest left more than 2,000 dead, including more than 400 Iranians - caused deepening tension between the rivals.
This month's Hajj will be the first time in almost three decades that Iranian pilgrims have not participated.
The two countries severed diplomatic relations in January after Saudi Arabia executed a prominent Shia cleric and angry Iranian crowds overran Saudi diplomatic missions.