Khamenei calls on Muslims to reconsider management of holy sites by Saudi Arabia
IRAN’S Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued an angry rebuke to “blasphemous” regional rival Saudi Arabia yesterday, calling on the Muslim world to question its management of Islam’s holiest sites.
“Because of Saudi rulers’ oppressive behaviour towards God’s guests, the world of Islam must fundamentally reconsider the management of the two holy places and the issue of hajj,” Mr Khamenei said in a statement published on his website.
His comments came ahead of this month’s annual hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. Some 60,000 Iranians took part last year, but have been effectively barred this year after negotiations fell apart.
Mr Khamenei accused the Saudi ruling family, who are the custodians of Islam’s holiest sites in Mecca and Medina, of politicising the pilgrimage, and turning themselves into “small and puny Satans who tremble for fear of jeopardising the interests of the Great Satan [the United States]”.
“Saudi rulers ... who have blocked the proud and faithful Iranian pilgrims’ path to the Beloved’s House, are disgraced and misguided people who think their survival on the throne of oppression is dependent on defending the arrogant powers of the world, on alliances with Zionism and the US and on fulfilling their demands,” he wrote.
Mr Khamenei was also fiercely critical of the Saudi response to a deadly stampede during last year’s hajj, which killed some 2300 foreign pilgrims, including 464 Iranians.
“Instead of apology and remorse and judicial prosecution of those who were directly at fault in that horrifying event, Saudi rulers – with utmost shamelessness and insolence – refused to allow the formation of an international Islamic fact-finding committee,” he said.
“The hesitation and failure to rescue the half-dead and injured people ... is incontrovertible,” he added. “They murdered them.”
Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia are at odds over a raft of regional issues, notably the conflicts in Syria and Yemen in which they support opposing sides. –