Iranians have no chance of making a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia for this year’s Hajj any more, Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization announced on Sunday, placing the blame squarely on Saudi officials for “continued obstructionism” and politicizing the religious ritual.
In a statement on Sunday, the Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization said the time limit for making and finalizing arrangements for the Iranian pilgrims’ trip to the Arab country is now over and the Islamic Republic’s legitimate requests have gone unanswered.
“Due to the continuation of the Saudi government’s obstructionism, the Islamic Republic of Iran’s dear pilgrims will be deprived of attending this year’s Hajj,” the statement said, holding Riyadh accountable for the problem.
Pointing to a litany of Saudi moves to hinder Hajj arrangements, the statement denounced the Riyadh regime for politicizing Hajj and altering the provisions of a routine agreement it signs with Iran every year.
Iran insisted that the safety of travelers to Saudi Arabia must be ensured, given the disaster in Mina that killed many Iranian pilgrims in Last year’s Hajj.
More than 460 Iranians were among the thousands of pilgrims who died on September 24, 2015, in a crush in Mina, near Mecca.
The incident marked the worst ever tragedy during Hajj.
There were already doubts about participation of Iranian pilgrims in the 2016 Hajj since tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia ran high following Riyadh’s execution of prominent Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, and a subsequent attack by outraged Iranian protesters on the Saudi embassy in Tehran, which resulted in the Arab country’s decision to sever its ties with the Islamic Republic.
Although Iranian officials criticized the embassy attack and those involved in the attack have been brought to justice, Saudi Arabia has cut off all diplomatic relations with Iran.