Iran leader attacks Saudis over Hajj

Iran’s supreme leader has attacked Saudi Arabia’s handling of the Hajj almost a year on since hundreds of pilgrims were killed in a stampede.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said because of Riyadh’s “oppressive behaviour” the “world of Islam” should reconsider its management of the Hajj.

This year it begins on 11 September but Iranians will not participate.

The Hajj is an annual Muslim pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca, located in Saudi Arabia.

In a statement Ayatollah Khamenei said: “Saudi rulers, who have obstructed the path of Allah and have blocked the proud and faithful Iranian pilgrims’ path to the Beloved’s House, are disgraced and misguided people.

“They [the world of Islam] must not let those [Saudi] rulers escape responsibility for the crimes they have caused throughout the world of Islam.”

Regional rivals 

In May Saudi Arabia and Iran failed to defuse a row on several issues surrounding the Hajj, including visa requirements and flights which have barred Iranians from completing the pilgrimage.

Iran says Saudi Arabia failed to meet Iranian demands for “the security and respect” of Iranian pilgrims but Saudi Arabia says the demands were “unacceptable”.

About 60,000 Iranians attended the Hajj last year and some 400 died in the stampede near Mecca.

Iran and Saudi Arabia are long-standing rivals for regional leadership.

In January, the predominantly Sunni Saudi Arabia broke off diplomatic ties with Iran, amid a row over the Saudi execution of a prominent Shia Muslim cleric.

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