Iran, Tehran: Iran chafing from the high number of its pilgrims that died in a stampede in Saudi Arabia last year and the chilly relations between the two countries, has banned its citizens from performing this year’s Hajj.
Saudi Arabia is vexed in return and has accused Iran of politicising the Hajj and held it responsible for barring its citizens from performing the ritual this season, a news agency reported. Iran announced that its citizens would miss the Hajj this year, after Tehran failed to reach an agreement with Riyadh on arrangements for its pilgrims to join the annual ritual in September.
It said in a meeting, the Saudi Cabinet was briefed that Iranian hajj affairs officials refused to sign the deal. “Saudi Arabia welcomes all pilgrims and does not stop any Muslim from visiting the holy cities,’’ the Cabinet said. It added that Iran’s decision to ban its citizens to perform Hajj this year is aimed to politicise the ritual and exploit it in underestimating the Saudi efforts to serve pilgrims and ensure their safety and stability. Iranians were among other pilgrims who died in stampede in 2015’s Hajj. It added that the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) had also condemned the Iranian move.