Saudis, Iran Accuse Each Other of Blocking Hajj Pilgrims

Muslim pilgrims pray near the Islam's holiest shrine, the Kaaba, at the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia's holy Muslim city of Mecca late on September 26, 2015.

TEL AVIV – The crisis between Saudi Arabia and Iran sank to a new low in recent days as Riyadh accused Iran of politicizing the hajj pilgrimage by stopping its own citizens from traveling to the religious event.

The Iranians for their part blamed the Saudis, accusing them of deliberately sabotaging draft agreements that allow for Iranian travelers to attend the hajj. “The arrangements have not been put together and it’s now too late,” Ali Jannati told Iran’s IRNA news agency. The sabotage is coming from the Saudis.”

Saudi Culture and Information Minister Adel Al-Toraifi on Monday blamed Iran, saying Tehran refused to sign an agreement that would allow visas and accommodations to be approved.

The “Iranian government would now have to face Almighty Allah and the world to explain why its representatives failed to sign the minutes of the meeting with the Haj and Umrah Ministry,” Tofaifi stated.

Last week, the Saudi Ministry of Hajj announced that an Iranian delegation that visited the country refused to commit to the agreement, pending a review by the Iranian government. The ministry also said the country has built sufficient infrastructure to receive millions of pilgrims in safety.

Saudi Arabia has opened negotiations with a number of Muslim countries and issued new regulations after 700 pilgrims, mostly Iranian, were killed last year, following which the Saudi government was widely accused of negligence.

Saudi social media users are not upset at the prospect of a lack of Iranian pilgrims this August.

“Hajj this year will be ideal,” Ahmed wrote.

“Karbalaa [A Shi’ite holy city in Iraq] is where they go on pilgrimage. Those who come to Mecca are the provocateurs of the Revolutionary Guards,”Abu Abdelaziz tweeted.

Nur commented: “All the better. Allahu akbar.”

“The participants in the hajj are the Revolutionary Guards agents and their families, who are pushed to the end of the line,” wrote Ibrahim. “We’re better off without the Shi’ites.”

Other Saudis hurled profanities at the Iranians. “May they go to hell,” wrote one.

“They’re not welcome,” wrote another. “Our government made a wise decision. The ayatollahs are nothing but trouble.”