S. Arabia Should Apologize for Hajj Disaster

S. Arabia Should Apologize for Hajj Disaster S. Arabia Should Apologize for Hajj Disaster

The Leader of the Islamic Revolution denounced Saudi authorities for their attempts to evade responsibility for the recent Hajj tragedy claiming the lives of hundreds of pilgrims in a crush outside Mecca, saying they should apologize to all Muslims, particularly the bereaved families.

"This issue will not be forgotten and the nations will pursue it seriously. Instead of making diversionary attempts and accusing others, the Saudis should accept the responsibility and apologize to Muslims and the victims' families," Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei was quoted by IRNA as saying on Sunday.

The catastrophe occurred during the annual Hajj pilgrimage on Thursday, when two groups of worshippers on their way to Jamarat for a symbolic stoning-of-Satan ritual converged on a narrow street at Mina, a few kilometers east of Mecca.

According to Iranian media, there have been over 150 Iranians among the dead and almost 50 among the injured. More than 300 Iranian pilgrims have remained unaccounted for, among them former ambassador to Lebanon Ghazanfar Roknabadi as well as two state TV reporters.  

Fars News Agency said a former ambassador to Slovenia was among the dead.

"The Islamic world has a lot of questions. The loss of more than 1,000 lives is no small issue. The Muslim world should focus on this," the Leader added.  

In his address to the UN General Assembly on Saturday, President Hassan Rouhani expressed regret over "the heart-rending incident," demanding an investigation into its causes.

Iran has summoned the Saudi charge d'affaires three times to protest the Arab kingdom's handling of the disaster.

 Seeking Prosecution   

Prosecutor General Ebrahim Raeisi told state TV, "Under international law, this incident is absolutely subject to prosecution. The Saudis must be responsive."  

He said Saudi officials blocked a road used by Hajj pilgrims to allow a royal convoy to pass through, causing the deadly convergence in the town of Mina.

"They have to know that we will pursue the trial of Saudis for the crime they have committed against Hajj pilgrims through international courts and organizations."

Elsewhere, Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani said a careful consideration of reports shows the Riyadh government is responsible due to its mismanagement.

He criticized Saudis for their lack of cooperation with Iranian officials seeking to send a delegation to locate those unaccounted for, IRNA reported.

"The Saudi government should bear in mind that Muslims and Iranians will never forget this improper behavior," he said in a speech to Parliament on Sunday.