Saudis Must Meet Conditions Before Hajj

Saudis Must Meet Conditions Before Hajj Saudis Must Meet Conditions Before Hajj

A lawmaker called on hajj authorities to insist on Iran's preconditions in meetings requested by Saudis to discuss a return of Iranian nationals to the largest annual Islamic ritual.

Iran decided to stop sending pilgrims to the hajj ritual in protest against the Saudis' handling of a deadly incident during the hajj pilgrimage in September 2015 that killed thousands of Muslims, over 460 of them Iranians, and also due to the Saudi failure to guarantee the safety of Iranian pilgrims.

"Iran should stick to its preconditions for attending the hajj ritual, one of the most important of which should be the right to hold the disavowal of pagans ceremony," Mohammad Ali Pourmokhtar said in a talk with ICANA on Sunday.

AFP has quoted the Al-Hayat daily as saying Riyadh's pilgrims minister, Mohammed Bentin, opened discussions with more than 80 countries, including Iran, to work out the details of the 2017 hajj.

"Iran's hajj delegation was invited to come to the kingdom" for preparations, the paper said.

The Arab News daily said Riyadh would welcome pilgrims for hajj and the smaller Umrah rite "irrespective of their nationalities or sectarian affiliations, including Iranian pilgrims".

However, Iran's Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization has said it has not yet received any invitation from the Saudis.

Pourmokhtar said the invitation indicates that Saudi leaders have returned to their senses.

"Inviting Iran to help arrange the next year's hajj ritual shows that Saudi Arabia regrets its past behavior," he said.

More than 1.8 million Muslims took part in this year's hajj, but Iranians stayed home after Riyadh failed to offer safety assurances following the deadly stampede during the 2015 pilgrimage.

The crush happened when two groups of pilgrims on their way to perform the stoning of Satan ritual converged at an intersection in Mina, near Mecca.

Riyadh put the death toll at 769 while counts of fatalities by countries that repatriated bodies showed thousands of people had died.

  Auspicious Event

Another parliamentarian, Abolfazl Aboutorabi, described the Saudi invitation as an "auspicious" event that could be used to mend strained bilateral ties.

"Saudi Arabia's invitation is auspicious and can help restore friendly ties between the two Muslim countries. The Mina case is not closed yet and we reserve the right to pursue it," he said.

Tehran and Riyadh have locked horns in disputes on a number of issues, which culminated in the Arab kingdom's decision to cut bilateral diplomatic ties in early January.

The move was prompted by Iranian protestors storming Saudi diplomatic missions in Tehran and Mashhad in a show of outrage over the execution of a prominent Shia cleric.

Iranian officials have bluntly criticized Riyadh's destabilizing role in the region for funding terrorists and also its ineptitude in running the hajj, by far the largest and most important Muslim ritual.

On the first anniversary of the hajj disaster on September 24, Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei railed against the poor performance of Saudis in dealing with the hajj incident and suggested Muslim countries think about ending Riyadh's control over the annual pilgrimage.

"Because of [the Saudi] rulers' oppressive behavior toward God's guests, the world of Islam must fundamentally reconsider the management of the two holy places [referring to the Grand Mosque in Mecca and the Prophet's (PBUH) Mosque in Medina] and the issue of hajj."


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