Ahead of this year’s annual hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei took the opportunity to once again blast Saudi Arabia over what is known as the “Mina Stampede,” which left nearly 800 Muslims dead in 2015.
The incident occurred on the group’s way to performing the “Stoning of the Devil” ritual at Jamarat, located two miles from Mecca.
Muslims from Iran, India, Egypt, Turkey, Somalia, Pakistan, Kenya, Senegal, Nigeria, Algeria, Indonesia, the Philippines, and the Netherlands died in the stampede incident.
In response to the tragedy, Saudi Arabia executed a Shi’ite cleric, which caused Iranian protesters to storm the Saudi embassy in Tehran and pushed Riyadh to sever diplomatic relations with Tehran that same year.
In return, Iran to boycott the Sunni-majority Kingdom of Saudi Arabia over this series of tensions.
“A fact-finding committee, with Iran’s presence, should be formed to investigate these cruelties,” Khamenei said in a speech to Iran’s haj organizers on Monday, according to Reuters. He added, “Relevant Iranian authorities should mobilize all legal resources to follow up the tragedy.”
The supreme leader then insisted, “The holy lands of Mecca and Mina belong to all Muslims … it does not belong to rulers of Saudi Arabia.”
According to Reuters, approximately 90,000 Iranians attended hajj last year and about 85,000 are expected to attend the holy pilgrimage this year.
Monday’s comments from Khamenei are not the first time the hardline cleric has criticized Saudi Arabia.
In May 2017, ahead of the Ramadan Muslim holiday, Khamenei blasted Saudi rulers as being “worthless, inept, and villainous.”
He also called the Saudis “idiots” and accused them of buying the friendship of “pagans and enemies” with their oil money and said they were “milk cows for the Americans.”
Saudi Arabia has applauded President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or Iran nuclear deal.
The kingdom has also blamed Iran for amplified regional insecurity over its support for Houthi militants in Libya, Hezbollah in Lebanon, its destabilizing proxies in Iraq, and for supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Syria.