Debate Rages Between Iran and Saudia Arabia over Hajj Massacre

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Iranian dictator Ali Khamenei continues to call for Saudi Arabia to apologize for the deaths of over 750 people killed last week in a stampede during the Muslim hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.

The massacre occurred on Thursday as hundreds of thousands of Muslims participated in the “stoning of the devil” ceremony in Mina, which is right outside of Mecca.

“The issue will not be forgotten and the nations will pursue it seriously,” Khamenei said on Sunday. “Instead of accusing this and that, the Saudis should accept responsibility and apologize to the Muslims and victims’ families,” he added.

Over 100 Iranians were killed during the hajj stampede, according to reports.

Khamenei’s tone is noticeably different from a September 11 incident in Mecca when a crane fell and killed over 100 Muslims. At the time, Khamenei said the act was God’s will.

The Iranian autocrat’s commentary comes shortly after his figurehead President Hassan Rouhani called for an international investigation of the incident while at the United Nations.

Iran, which has zero Sunni mosques in the country, continues to suggest that Saudi Arabia should surrender oversight over its holy sites, and its demands have upset Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir said Sunday that Iran is “politically exploiting a tragedy.”

“The Kingdom has had a long history of spending tremendous resources to care for the pilgrimage to ensure that the pilgrims who come there have a successful pilgrimage,” Jubeir insisted.

“And we will make sure that we will learn from this and we will make sure that it doesn’t happen again. I want to repeat again this is not a situation with which to play politics,” he added.

There has been much debate in the Islamic world over whether Iranian and Saudi leaders should show remorse for the deaths of hajj pilgrims in the first place, as some have concluded that the stampede is a result of God’s will.

Others, such as CNN’s Nima Elbagir, have pointed out that some believe dying during the hajj “is a blessing” for Muslims. “You are considered to have been martyred, cleansed of sin,” Elbagir wrote over the weekend.


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