Iranians urged not to use third country to join Haj

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Tehran, June 1 (IANS) Head of Iran’s Haj and Pilgrimage Organisation Saeed Ohadi on Wednesday asked Iranians to avoid travelling to Saudi Arabia from a third country to join the Haj ritual in September.

“This year, due to the psychological atmosphere against Iran created by the Saudis and (their) failure to provide consular services to Iranian pilgrims, it is not advisable for any (Iranian) national to go on Haj pilgrimage from another country,” Xinhua quoted Ohadi as saying.

Ohadi pointed to his recent talks with Saudi Haj officials, saying that in the negotiations, Saudis followed “improper” approach they had adopted toward the issue of Iranians’ Haj pilgrimage earlier.

Regarding this year’s Haj, Saudi authorities’ discrimination and hatred as well as their attempts to take political revenge has “reached a peak”, he said.

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On Sunday, Iranian Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Ali Jannati said performing Haj for Iranian pilgrims was “impossible” in 2016.

“We were supposed to wait until Sunday for the Saudi officials’ response about our points in the negotiations. But, the rhetoric of the Saudi side with the Iranian representatives, and their obstructions showed that performing Haj rituals is impossible (for Iranians) this year,” Jannati said.

After several rounds of meetings with the Saudi authorities recently, Tehran failed to reach an agreement with Riyadh on arrangements for its pilgrims to join the annual ritual in September.

Saudi Arabia and Iran have accused each other of “politicising” the Haj and held one another responsible for barring Iranian citizens from performing the ritual this season.

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Iran and Saudi Arabia are currently locked in a diplomatic row over Syria and Yemen issues, as well as the Sunni-majority Riyadh’s execution of a prominent Shia cleric Nimr-al Nimr, along with 46 others over terror charges, in January.

The executions sent a large number of Iranians to the streets, and some of them stormed the Saudi diplomatic missions in capital Tehran and the city of Mashhad.

Later, Riyadh cut its diplomatic ties with Tehran over the attacks, and many of Gulf countries either followed suit or downgraded their relations with Iran.



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