Iran suspends pilgrimage to Mecca
TEHRAN - Iran has "suspended" the participation of Iranian pilgrims to the "minor pilgrimage" to Mecca to protest against the "outrageous behaviour" of the Saudi religious police against them, said Sunday an Iranian official.
- "We have decided to suspend participation in the minor pilgrimage (Umrah) because of the shocking manner in which Saudi officials for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice have treated our pilgrims," said the Communication manager of the Iranian Hajj Abdullah Nassiri.
He added that the ban, imposed after the "Great Pilgrimage (Hajj) in November during which the Iranian pilgrims have been particularly badly treated, was motivated by" religious and not political."
"Shiite Muslims, the Iranians have different rituals (those Sunnis), as special prayers in the mosques of Mecca and Medina, which has led to brutal actions of these agents against our pilgrims," said Nassiri. "We want to ensure that such conduct will cease," he added.
The head of the Iranian Hajj Ali Layali, said on his side that negotiations were ongoing between Riyadh and Tehran to try to resolve this recurring problem.
"We decided to have discussions with the Saudis because of the shocking behaviour of the police (religious) during the last Hajj and last Umrah," he told the news agency Fars.
Saudi Arabia is governed according to the precepts of Wahhabi Islam, ultra-rigorous version of Sunni Islam that regards Shia Islam and its rules with suspicion.
The clashes between Iranian pilgrims and security forces during Saudi pilgrimage to Mecca have increased after the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran, whose leaders routinely criticize the Saudi regime's subservience to Washington.
Ennaharonline/ M. O