Muslim pilgrims, as part of one of the last major rituals of the religious Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca and nearby holy sites in Saudi Arabia, engaged in the symbolic stoning of Satan on Monday, reports Al Arabiya.
The report comes one day after Iran’s state-controlled Press TV accused Saudi Arabia, the Islamic Republic’s regional rivals, of “serving Zionists,” adding that “Saudi Arabia has taken the holy sites of Islam hostage in order to implement its spiteful policies and serve the arrogant powers and the Israeli regime.”
During the Hajj pilgrimage last year, many Iranians and other Muslims were killed during a deadly human stampede at the site of the ceremony of the stoning of Satan in Mina, near the holy city of Mecca.
Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has blamed the incident on mismanagement by Saudi Arabian authorities. The Saudis deny the allegation.
The incident has fueled the already tense relationship between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Al Arabiya explains:
For the stoning ritual, pilgrims will be filing in to crowds through a multi-level structure housing three pillars symbolizing the devil.
The ritual is an emulation of [Muslim Prophet] Ibrahim’s stoning of the devil at the three spots where he is said to have appeared trying to dissuade him from obeying God’s order to sacrifice his son, Ismael.Muslims from around the world pour to Makkah every year to perform Hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam. Every able-bodied adult Muslim who can financially afford the trip must perform Hajj at least once in a lifetime.
“Iran has cancelled the participation of its pilgrims in this year’s Hajj pilgrimage, which started on Saturday, due to Saudi Arabia’s creation of obstacles in the way of Iranians seeking to perform the rituals,” reports Press TV.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif noted that “suspicious, filthy, and evil hands” can be seen not only behind the deadly stampede last year but in all crises across the Middle East, “from Bahrain to Yemen and from Iraq to Syria and Lebanon and even during the annual Hajj season in the territories where the Holy Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).”
He indicated, “These hands have targeted the fate of Muslim nations and the unity of the Muslim world in its confrontation with the common danger of Zionism and international terrorism.”
Saudi Arabia has been just as critical of Iran, accusing it of fomenting stability in the Middle East.