MP Explains Requirements for Returning to Hajj

MP Explains Requirements for Returning to HajjMP Explains Requirements for Returning to Hajj

Saudi officials should give assurances on safety of Iranian pilgrims, treat them with respect and provide restitution to victims of the 2015 Mina stampede, if they want to clear the way for Iran's return to hajj, the largest annual Islamic pilgrimage, a lawmaker said

Mohammad Ebrahim Rezaei made the statement in an interview with ICANA on Saturday.

"It's the Saudis' duty to pay blood money for all pilgrims who died in the Mina crush, including Iranians. Our officials will not compromise on that," Rezaei stressed.  

"Besides, hajj organizers should know that safety of pilgrims and respectful behavior toward them are a must, without which a glorious and inclusive hajj is unimaginable."

Saudi-owned daily Al-Hayat reported on December 30 that Saudi Pilgrimage Minister Mohammed Bentin had opened discussions with more than 80 countries, including Iran, on arrangements for the 2017 hajj.

After a two-week delay, the receipt of a Saudi invitation to discuss preparations for the participation of Iranian pilgrims in this year's hajj was acknowledged on Monday by Seyyed Ali Qazi-Askar, representative of the Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on hajj affairs.

On Thursday, he announced that an Iranian delegation would be dispatched to Saudi Arabia on February 23 for hajj talks.

"All matters regarding the hajj, including accommodation, food, medical care, transportation, safety, banking and visas, must immediately be studied and appropriate solutions be put forward," he said.

There was no officially-organized Iranian group in last year's pilgrimage to the holiest Muslim sites, after Iranians found the lack of Saudi safety guarantees unacceptable.

Qazi-Askar described the reason for Iran's absence in the 2016 hajj rituals as "delays by Saudi officials".

The Mina stampede at the 2015 hajj killed several thousand people, including 464 Iranians.

Days into the incident, Saudis published a death toll of 770, but since then, they have neither released a report on the tragedy, nor offered to pay compensation to the families of victims.

This has drawn criticism from Iranian officials, who accuse Saudis of ineptitude in running the hajj.    

Earlier at the 2015 hajj, a construction crane had collapsed into Mecca's Grand Mosque, killing more than 100 pilgrims, including 11 Iranians, and injuring over 200 others, among them 32 Iranian nationals.


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