Iran blames Saudis, cancels participation in Hajj pilgrimage

by WorldTribune Staff, May 29, 2016

Amid an ongoing rift with Sunni Saudi Arabia, Shi’ite Iran has decided not to participate in this year’s Hajj pilgrimage.

The Grand Mosque at Mecca.
The Grand Mosque at Mecca.

“Due to ongoing sabotage by the Saudi government, it is hereby announced that … Iran’s pilgrims have been denied the privilege to attend the Hajj this year, and responsibility for this rests with the government of Saudi Arabia,” the Iranian Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization said in a statement carried by Iran state media on May 29.

Saudi media said an Iranian delegation had left the kingdom without an agreement over the hajj, the second time the two countries have failed to reach a deal.

“Iran is the only country that refused to sign the agreement on the hajj. It insisted on a number of unacceptable demands,” Saudi Minister of Hajj and Umra Mohammed Bintin told Ekhbariya TV.

Tension between Riyadh and Teheran has been rising since the Hajj 2015 disaster in which 2,000 people lost their lives, 464 of them Iranians. Iran said Saudi “incompetence” and “mismanagement” were to blame.

Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties with Iran after January’s embassy incident in Teheran after Iranian protesters attacked Saudi diplomatic missions there following the execution of a prominent Shia cleric in Saudi Arabia.