Iran Officially Suspends Umrah

Iran Officially Suspends Umrah  Iran Officially Suspends Umrah

The Hajj Organization was ordered Monday to halt the Umrah (lesser pilgrimage) hajj flights following the unacceptable inaction of the Saudi government regarding the sexual abuse of two teenage pilgrims by Jeddah airport security forces.

“After proper investigations into the case, the organization was ordered to temporarily stop Umrah as of today (April 14) until the offenders are put on trial and punished. Other Iranian flights will also be suspended,” Tabnak quoted Ali Jannati, the minister of culture and Islamic guidance as saying.  He was tasked by President Hassan Rouhani last week to pursue the matter.

Jannati said Iran’s national integrity had been marred by the sinister incident and the public demands an official apology. “Many authorities were concerned after the incident, particularly because the Saudis have been demonstrating unacceptable behavior toward Iranian pilgrims during Umrah,” he said.

The minister, however, added that talks were held with Saudi officials, and they have promised to take action to arrest and punish those responsible. “There was even talk of executing them…but so far practically nothing has happened.”

Until appropriate and proper action is taken by Riyadh, Umrah flights will remain on hold, the minister was quoted as saying. A detailed report on the incident will soon be delivered to the president.

A cross-section of the local media outlets in the past several days reported that two young Iranian pilgrims were sexually assaulted by Jeddah airport guards.  Details have not been released so far.  Over the years Iranian pilgrims in increasing numbers have complained about harassment and misbehavior by junior Saudi authorities and police during their pilgrimage to the kingdom.

The issue has also been denounced by senior preachers in Qom and other religious centers across the country.