Iran again dismisses reports about Saudi invitation for Hajj
The Iranian Foreign Ministry has again stressed that the country has not received any invitation from Saudi Arabia for the next year’s Hajj rituals.
“As it was already announced, the Islamic Republic of Iran has not received any invitation yet from the Saudi government for the next year’s Hajj,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said on Wednesday.
The Iranian official also dismissed speculations that Tehran plans not to send pilgrims to next year’s Hajj rituals.
“Naturally after receiving the invitation and if conditions are ripe, the issue will be studied by relevant organizations and bodies and the decision will be made,” he added.
On December 30, 2016, London-based daily al-Hayat reported that Saudi Pilgrimage Minister Mohammed Bentin had opened discussions with more than 80 countries, including Iran, to work out the details of the 2017 Hajj.
The Arab daily also said Riyadh would welcome pilgrims for Hajj “irrespective of their nationalities or sectarian affiliations, including Iranian pilgrims.”
The new head of Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization dismissed the report.
“Contrary to the report published by some media outlets about the extension of an invitation by Saudi Arabia for Iran’s participation in this year’s Hajj rituals, we have received no invitation,” Hamid Mohammadi told IRIB on Sunday.
He added that grounds will be prepared for the presence of Iranian pilgrims in Hajj if Iran’s conditions regarding the safety of pilgrims are met.
Iran decided not to dispatch its nationals to Hajj last year over concerns about the safety of Iranian pilgrims following a number of deadly incidents.
In September 2015, a deadly crush occurred during Hajj rituals in Mina, near Mecca. Days into the 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 crush. Iran said about 4,700 people, including over 465 of its nationals, lost their lives in the incident.
Earlier in the same month, a massive construction crane had collapsed into Mecca’s Grand Mosque, killing more than 100 pilgrims, including 11 Iranians, and injuring over 200 others, among them 32 Iranian nationals.