Saudi and Iran trade jibes over Hajj

7 Days in Dubai - - NEWS -

Iran’s Pres­i­dent Has­san Rouhani says Is­lamic coun­tries should take “puni­tive” mea­sures against Saudi Ara­bia fol­low­ing the deaths of more than 2,000 pil­grims in a crush of crowds dur­ing last year’s Hajj.

The of­fi­cial IRNA news agency quoted Rouhani as say­ing the pil­grims lost their lives be­cause of the “lack of qual­i­fi­ca­tion” of Saudi au­thor­i­ties.

Rouhani said “re­gional coun­tries and the Is­lamic world should take co­or­di­nated mea­sures to pun­ish Saudi Ara­bia in or­der to have a real Hajj”.

The Septem­ber 2015 stam­pede and crush of pil­grims killed at least 2,426 peo­ple, ac­cord­ing to an As­so­ci­ated Press count. Iran had the high­est of death toll of any coun­try, with 464 Ira­nian pil­grims killed in the dis­as­ter.

Saudi au­thor­i­ties have not re­leased any find­ings of their probe into the Hajj dis­as­ter. Pre­lim­i­nary state­ments sug­gested the crush was caused when at least two large crowds in­ter­sected. Ten­sions have flared between the re­gional ri­vals, with Iran’s supreme leader re­cently say­ing Saudi “mur­dered” in­jured Hajj pil­grims and Saudi’s grand mufti coun­ter­ing by claim­ing that Ira­ni­ans are “not Mus­lims”.

The re­marks by Grand Mufti Ab­du­laziz Al Sheikh came a day after Iran’s Ay­a­tol­lah Ali Khamenei ac­cused Saudi au­thor­i­ties of killing Mus­lims in the stam­pede.

In com­ments to the Makkah news­pa­per, the Grand Muftu, Saudi’s top cleric, was quoted as say­ing that Khamenei’s re­marks are “not sur­pris­ing” be­cause Ira­ni­ans are descen­dants of “Ma­juws”– a term that refers to Zoroas­tri­ans and those who wor­ship fire.

Zoroas­tri­an­ism is a monothe­is­tic re­li­gion and Is­lam and was the dom­i­nant re­li­gion in Per­sia be­fore the Arab con­quest. “We must un­der­stand they are not Mus­lims, for they are the descen­dants of Ma­juws, and their en­mity to­ward Mus­lims, es­pe­cially the Sun­nis, is very old,” the Saudi cleric said.

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