Iran official slams Saudi perversity in Hajj talks
The head of Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization says Saudi officials are continuing to stonewall in the talks with the Islamic Republic about the dispatch of Iranian pilgrims to the holy Mecca this year.
Despite Iran’s great efforts, Saudi officials in charge of Hajj affairs have so far refused to provide a transparent response due to inconsistency among them, Saeed Ohadi told IRNA on Thursday.
He added that an Iranian delegation has recently held talks with Saudi officials and submitted 20 proposals for ensuring security and dignity of the Iranian pilgrims during the current year’s Hajj rituals.
Ohadi said Saudi officials are supposed to respond clearly to proposals by the Iranian delegation and make preparations for an agreement which they have been putting off.
He added that Iran’s “temporal red line” for administering Hajj affairs in Iran is approaching.
“The continuation of the current situation will definitely pose challenges to this year’s Hajj [rituals],” Ohadi said.
At least 464 Iranian pilgrims lost their lives during a deadly stampede which occurred after two large masses of pilgrims converged at a crossroads in Mina, near the holy city of Mecca, during the symbolic ceremony of the stoning of Satan in Jamarat on September 24, 2015.
Saudi Arabia claims that nearly 770 people were killed in the incident, but Iranian officials say about 4,700 people were killed in the tragedy.
Saudi Arabia has come under harsh criticism over its handling of the Mina incident.
The tragedy came days after a massive construction crane collapsed into Mecca’s Grand Mosque, killing more than 100 people and leaving over 200 others wounded. According to the figures released by Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization, 11 Iranian pilgrims were among the deceased and 32 of the injured were also Iranian nationals.