Iran says its pilgrims will not attend haj in Saudi Arabia

By REUTERS
May 29, 2016 16:14

DUBAI - Iran's Haj and Pilgrimage Organisation said on Sunday the country's pilgrims would not attend the annual Muslim haj pilgrimage, blaming regional rival Saudi Arabia for "sabotage" and failing to guarantee the safety of pilgrims.

Relations between the two countries plummeted after hundreds of Iranians died in a crush during last year's haj and after Riyadh broke diplomatic ties when its Tehran embassy was stormed in January over the Saudi execution of a Shi'ite cleric.


The dispute has provided another arena for discord between the conservative Sunni Muslim monarchy of Saudi Arabia and the revolutionary Shi'ite republic of Iran, which back opposing sides in Syria and other conflicts across the region.


"Due to ongoing sabotage by the Saudi government, it is hereby announced that ... Iran's pilgrims have been denied the privilege to attend the haj this year, and responsibility for this rests with the government of Saudi Arabia," the Haj and Pilgrimage Organisation said in a statement carried by Iran state media.


Saudi media earlier said an Iranian delegation had left the kingdom without an agreement over the haj, the second time the two countries have failed to reach a deal.


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