A London-based expert on Middle East affairs praised Iran’s decision not to send its nationals to Saudi Arabia for pilgrimage during this year’s Hajj season, saying the Islamic Republic has refused to yield to Wahhabi-imposed conditions.
“Iran’s decision not to dispatch its pilgrims to Saudi Arabia is very correct and wise for two reasons,” Basem al-Awadi said in an interview with the Tasnim News Agency.
“Firstly, (by this move) Iran refused to bow to Hajj rites according to the rituals and conditions of Wahhabism,” he said, regretting that Saudi Arabia is imposing such conditions and rituals on all Muslims around the world making Hajj pilgrimage.
“Secondly, Iran has protected the lives of its nationals by taking such a decision,” the expert stated, adding that Saudi Arabia will put pilgrims’ lives at risk by its unwise measures.
On May 24, an Iranian delegation traveled to Saudi Arabia at the official invitation of new Saudi Minister of Hajj and Umrah Mohammad Saleh bin Taher Benten to hold the last-ditch talks with the Arab kingdom’s officials on the dispatch of Iranian pilgrims for the annual rituals in September.
Tehran had insisted in the talks that visas for Iranian pilgrims should be issued in Iran and that the safety of travelers to Saudi Arabia must be ensured, given last year’s disaster in Mina that killed many pilgrims in the previous Hajj pilgrimage. However, Riyadh refused to accept Iran’s conditions.
More than 460 Iranians were among the thousands of pilgrims who died on September 24, 2015, in a crush in Mina, near Mecca, during the Hajj pilgrimage.
The incident marked the worst ever tragedy during Hajj.