Plots Underway to Heighten Tehran-Riyadh Tension: Hajj Official

hajj pilgrimage

An Iranian official says there are some groups who are seeking to escalate the current disputes between Iran and Saudi Arabia by dissuading Iranian pilgrims from visiting the holy sites in the Arab country.

The representative of Iran’s Leader in Hajj and Pilgrimage Affairs, Seyyed Ali Qazi-Askar, said there are some groups who are against holding Hajj rituals and seek to add fuel to the fire of disputes between Iran and Saudi Arabia by having the religious rituals stopped.

He went on saying that taking part in the largest gathering of Muslims in the holy city of Mecca is a long step in promoting the Muslims’ unity.

“Meanwhile, our long-term interests require us to establish cooperation with our neighbours against regional threats. We should have this point in mind that our security hinges on the stability of the region. Hajj rituals can provide us with an opportunity to expand our regional cooperation,” Qazi-Askar noted.

The Iranian official dismissed as baseless the statements spread on the cyberspace about pilgrims’ security, saying the remarks are aimed at dissuading Iranian pilgrims from taking part in this year’s Hajj ritual.

“Some people are seeking to dissuade Iranian pilgrims from visiting the holy sites in Saudi Arabia through sharing false statements on the cyberspace.”

He expressed regret that some religious sections of the Iranian society have been negatively influenced by such statements, noting that the move has disappointed the Iranian pilgrims.

“Most of the posts in social media are clear examples of lie and treason, but fortunately our people have trusted us.”

He added that all arrangements have been made to provide the Iranians with good and safe Hajj rituals this year.

He referred to the recent baseless rumours about sexual assaults on Iranian women in Saudi Arabia and said, “Over the past long years of my career in the Organization of Hajj Affairs, I’ve never heard of such cases. I hope the Hajj pilgrims don’t take seriously such rumours.”

According to a Farsi report by Tasnim, the Iranian official further noted that Iran’s approach towards Hajj ritual is not factional.

“As the late founder of the Islamic Republic, Imam Khomeini, said, we should not turn Hajj into a factional issue because Hajj is a universal issue which brings together Muslims from around the world.”

Qazi Askar said there are certain racist groups outside the country who try to tarnish the image of Hajj rituals as a forum for unity among the Muslims.

“The groups raise this false question why the pilgrims should spend their money in Saudi Arabia instead of helping the poor. But we should have this point in mind that Hajj is an obligatory religious ritual and it has been highly recommended by religious figures,” he said.

Qazi-Askar also stated that most of the pilgrims have done their best to help the poor over the past years. “They have also donated money to charities on many occasion,” he added.

The Iranian official also referred to the issue of electronic bracelets for Iranian pilgrims and said, “We have been under huge pressure over the issue after the spread of false news about them, but the bracelet functions as a watch. They have been produced in Iran with the aim of providing the Iranian pilgrims with security.”

He pointed to the religious events to be held during Hajj rituals and said during the previous years, the Iranian pilgrims held Komeil prayers in an open space between al-Baqi cemetery and al-Nabi Mosque.

“But this year, due to security reasons, we have decided to hold the prayers inside the hotels. The Saudi government has agreed with our decision. We wish to hold the prayers in the previous location once again.”

He added that as confirmed by the Saudi Arabian Hajj officials, the groups of Iranian pilgrims are among the most well-organized ones during Hajj ritual.

“Today most of the Muslim states are seeking to take advantage of our experiences in this field and we are proud of it,” he concluded.

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