Khamenei calls on Mus­lims to re­con­sider man­age­ment of holy sites by Saudi Ara­bia

The Myanmar Times - - World -

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. –

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