Riyadh Expected to Fulfill Promises of Hajj Security

Riyadh Expected to Fulfill Promises of Hajj SecurityRiyadh Expected to Fulfill Promises of Hajj Security

Lawmakers said Saudi Arabia has provided "written assurances" that it will meet Tehran's conditions with regard to ensuring security for Iranian pilgrims in the upcoming hajj ceremony, noting that the Saudis are expected to address Iran's grievances.

In a recent talk with ICANA, lawmaker Farhad Tajari said Saudi officials do not like to see a repeat of the deadly human crush that occurred during the Sept. 2015 hajj ritual in Mina, near Mecca.

"To avoid international condemnation, Saudi officials will certainly guarantee the safety of the pilgrims," he said.

Days into the Mina incident, Saudi Arabia published a death toll of 770 but refused to update it despite gradually surging fatality figures from individual countries whose nationals had been among the victims of the stampede. Unofficial sources put the death toll at almost 7,000 people. Iran said 465 of its nationals lost their lives in the incident.

Nearly 90,000 Iranians are expected to attend the hajj in Mecca this year. The first batch of the Iranian pilgrims flew to Saudi Arabia on Sunday. Last year, the kingdom had adopted an uncooperative approach, which effectively prevented Iranians from joining the religious ceremony.

In a speech to hajj organizers on Sunday, Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said Iranians would never forget the "catastrophic events" of 2015 and called on Saudi Arabia to ensure the security of all pilgrims.

"The serious and constant issue for the Islamic Republic is the preservation of the security, dignity, welfare and comfort of all pilgrims, particularly Iranian pilgrims," the Leader said, according to his official site.

"The security of the hajj is the responsibility of the country where the two noble shrines exist."

Lawmaker Mohammad Reza Amir-Hassankhani said assurances obtained from Saudi official are actionable in an international court of law and noted that "we are not only after the safety of our pilgrims, but we also want our dear countrymen to be treated with respect and dignity".

"We expect the Saudis to carry out their pledges appropriately," he said.

Leader's Representative for Hajj and Pilgrimage Affairs Hojatoleslam Ali Qazi-Asgar said on Monday Saudis' warm welcome of the first Iranian pilgrims arriving in the kingdom was "a sign of Saudi Arabia's commitment to the agreements", IRNA reported.

According to the news agency, the first convoy of Iranian pilgrims who arrived at the Medina airport was welcomed by Iranian and Saudi hajj authorities, including Saudi Minister of Hajj and Umrah Muhammad Abdurrahman Bijavi with baskets of flowers and fresh dates. Bijavi said he is happy to see Iranian pilgrims at hajj again and hoped to see Iranians at Umrah, too.



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