MPs Outline Conditions for Iran’s Return to Hajj

MPs Outline Conditions for Iran’s Return to Hajj

Lawmakers outlined Iran's conditions for resuming hajj pilgrimages, after Saudi Arabia signaled it is open to negotiations to convince Iranians to reverse a decision to halt the participation of pilgrims in the ritual over a row over two deadly hajj incidents.
Iran decided to stop sending pilgrims to the annual hajj ritual, citing the Saudis' mishandling of a human crush in September 2015 in Mina that killed thousands of Muslims, over 460 of them Iranians, and also their failure to guarantee the safety of Iranian pilgrims.
It followed another disaster in the same month in which at least 107 people from across the world lost their lives, including 11 Iranians, when a massive construction crane crashed in the Grand Mosque in Mecca due to stormy weather.
Saudi media reported over a month ago that Riyadh's pilgrimage minister, Mohammed Bentin, opened discussions with more than 80 countries, including Iran, to work out the details of the 2017 hajj.
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".
Two members of the parliament, in separate interviews with ICANA on Sunday, highlighted the demands that Iran's negotiators are expected to raise in talks over hajj relations with the Saudis scheduled for February 23.
  Call for Compensation 
Amir Hossein Qazizadeh Hashemi reiterated Iran's call that Saudi Arabia should compensate the Iranian pilgrims and their families affected by the disasters.
"The decision to allow the dispatch of pilgrims should be tied to the full payment of compensation to the martyrs of the Mina and crane incidents in Mecca," he said. 
"Saudi Arabia must agree to allow the Islamic Republic's pilgrims to hold … the disavowal of pagans ceremony as they did in the past." 
Lawmaker Shahrouz Barzegar concurred with Hashemi, saying Saudis should take "full responsibility" for their mismanagement that led to the two catastrophes.
More than 1.8 million Muslims took part in the 2016 hajj, but Iranians stayed home after Riyadh failed to offer safety assurances following the deadly stampede during the 2015 pilgrimage.
The stampede 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.
On the first anniversary of the hajj disaster last year, Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei railed against the poor performance of Saudis in dealing with the hajj incident and called on Muslim countries to 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," the Leader said.


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