Ensuring Security Prerequisite to Resuming Umrah Pilgrimage

Ensuring Security Prerequisite to Resuming Umrah PilgrimageEnsuring Security Prerequisite to Resuming Umrah Pilgrimage

The deputy foreign minister for consular, parliamentary and expatriates affairs said any decision on resuming Umrah pilgrimages depends on assurances by Saudi Arabia on the security of Iranian pilgrims.

"The Islamic Republic will be willing to resume Umrah once the security of pilgrims is ensured by imposing appropriate punishment for the offenders," Fars news agency quoted Hassan Qashqavi as saying on Tuesday in an interview with the Al-Alam news network in reference to the sexual abuse of two Iranian teenagers in Saudi Arabia.

Two workers at Jeddah international airport sexually harassed two Iranian boys in March before they flew back to Iran after visiting Mecca. The incident prompted Iran to suspend all minor pilgrimages, or Umrahs, to the Persian Gulf kingdom.  

In a meeting with Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir Abdollahian in Jeddah on June 17, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir expressed regret over the incident, saying the Saudi legal system will execute the sentences passed for the convicts in the shortest possible time.

A Saudi criminal court has reportedly sought death penalty for the two offenders.

Describing the indictment as "realistic", Qashqavi said in case any other sentence is handed down, the Foreign Ministry will lodge an appeal against it on behalf of the victims' families.