Legal Panel Proposed to Address Hajj Dispute

Legal Panel Proposed to Address Hajj Dispute Legal Panel Proposed to Address Hajj Dispute

A lawmaker said the establishment of a joint legal committee by Iran and Saudi Arabia would be the best way to secure payment of compensation to Iranian pilgrims and their families affected by the September 2015 hajj stampede and a separate crane crash.

Jalal Rahimi made the statement in a recent interview with ICANA.

The Mina stampede occurred during hajj rituals, when two groups of pilgrims on their way to perform the stoning of Satan ritual converged at an intersection.

Days into the incident, Saudi Arabia published a death toll of 770, but refused to update it despite the gradually surging fatality figures from individual countries whose nationals had been among the victims.

After 18 months, Saudis neither updated the count nor published a report on causes of the incident, while some estimates have put the death toll at around 4,700. 

Iran says the crush killed 464 of its nationals.

Earlier in September 2015, a massive construction crane had collapsed into Mecca's Grand Mosque, killing more than 100 pilgrims, including 11 Iranians, and injuring over 200 others, including 32 nationals from Iran.

These incidents have drawn criticism from Iranian officials who accuse Saudis of ineptitude in running the hajj.

  First Step to Better Ties 

Rahimi said the crush should not be a bone of contention between the two Muslim neighbors.

The lawmaker suggested that contacts to solve differences over the incident could be "a starting point" for warmer ties, something the two major West Asia countries really need. 

Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic ties with Iran in January 2016 after Iranian protesters, angered by the Riyadh execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr without due process of law, stormed its diplomatic premises in Tehran and Mashhad.

The legislator hoped that the settlement of the issues related to the Mina incident and other problems would allow Iran to resume sending pilgrims to hajj.

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.

In January, Seyyed Ali Qazi-Askar, representative of the Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on hajj affairs, 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.

Add new comment

Read our comment policy before posting your viewpoints