Chairman of the Expediency Council Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has held the Saudi government accountable for a recent deadly crush during Hajj rituals near the holy city of Mecca, which led to the deaths of several hundred people.
“The officials in the Saudi government in charge of [maintaining] order in this huge ritual are responsible for the incident and should be answerable to the Islamic world,” the chairman of Iran’s Expediency Council said in a message on Friday.
The senior cleric extended his condolences to Muslims and the bereaved families of the victims over the deadly tragedy, which he said has brought grief upon the Islamic world, and hoped that those injured in the incident would recover soon.
According to Saudi officials, at least 717 pilgrims lost their lives in an overcrowding outside Mecca. Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization has, however, has put the death toll at more than 1,300, which also includes 131 Iranians.
Meanwhile, Tehran interim Friday Prayers leader Ayatollah Mohammad Imami-Kashani also took a swipe at the Riyadh government for its mismanagement of the annual ritual.
“As stated by the Leader of the Islamic Revolution [Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei], Saudi Arabia must shoulder the responsibility and meet its obligations regarding the incident,” the senior cleric said, dismissing as “unacceptable” the Saudi claim that the pilgrims themselves were to blame for the incident.
He also urged Muslims to take the issue to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), stressing that the Hajj ritual did not concern only Saudi Arabia but all the Islamic countries.
Iranians rally to condemn Saudi Arabia
Also on Friday, Iranians took to the streets across the country to condemn the Saudi government for its mismanagement in the deadly incident.
On Thursday, Ayatollah Khamenei called on Saudi Arabia to shoulder its responsibility over the recent deadly incident in Mina and declared three days of national mourning.
“The Saudi government is obligated to shoulder its heavy responsibility in this bitter incident and meet its obligations in compliance with the rule of righteousness and fairness. The mismanagement and improper measures that were behind this tragedy should not be overlooked,” the Leader said.