An Iranian deputy foreign minister quashed rumors that Iraq has removed visa requirements for the pilgrims going to the Arab country for Arbaeen rituals, stressing that visitors will still need visas from the Iraqi government to cross the border.
Speaking to the Tasnim News Agency in the southwestern city of Khorramshahr on Saturday, Deputy Foreign Minister for Consular, Parliamentary and Expatriates’ Affairs Hassan Qashqavi warned the pilgrims not to head to the Iraqi border without a visa.
He also underlined that no Iraqi visa will be issued at any border crossings.
“The rumors about the removal of visa requirements in the final hours of the exit of pilgrims (from Iran) is a complete lie, and the visa requirements will not be removed under any circumstances,” the diplomat stressed.
Qashqavi cautioned the illegal visitors that crossing the border without a visa will amount to illegal entry, which will carry a 6-year sentence.
The Arbaeen mourning ceremony is one of the largest religious gatherings in the world.
It marks the 40th day after the martyrdom anniversary of the grandson of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), Imam Hussein (AS).
Each year, pilgrims, mainly from Iraq and Iran, travel long routes on foot to Karbala, where the holy shrine of Imam Hussein (AS) is located.
Last year, around 20 million pilgrims from all over the world gathered in Karbala on Arbaeen.