Saudi and Iran trade jibes over Hajj
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.