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Iran forbids its people to attend the traditional pilgrimage to Mecca

Hundreds killed in last year's rite when riots followed Saudi execution of Shi'ite cleric

Muslim pilgrims circle the Kaaba and pray during their Umrah Mawlid al-Nabawi "Birthday of Prophet Mohammad" in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia January 21, 2016

Iran said on Sunday (May 29) its pilgrims would not attend the annual Muslim haj pilgrimage, blaming regional rival Saudi Arabia for “sabotage” and failing to guarantee the safety of pilgrims.

Saudi Arabia, which oversees the pilgrimage to Mecca by more than two million Muslims from around the world, accused Iran of effectively depriving its citizens from the religious duty by refusing to sign a memorandum reached after talks with Iran’s Haj and Pilgrimage Organisation.

Relations between the two Gulf powers plummeted after hundreds of Iranians died in a crush in last year’s haj and after Riyadh broke diplomatic ties when its Tehran embassy was stormed in January over the Saudi execution of a Shi’ite cleric.

The dispute has provided another arena for discord between the conservative Sunni Muslim monarchy of Saudi Arabia and the revolutionary Shi’ite republic of Iran, which back opposing sides in Syria and other conflicts across the region.

“Due to ongoing sabotage by the Saudi government, it is hereby announced that … Iran’s pilgrims have been denied the privilege to attend the haj this year, and responsibility for this rests with the government of Saudi Arabia,” Iran’s Haj and Pilgrimage Organisation said in a statement carried by state media.

This article continues at [Religion News] Iran says its pilgrims will not attend haj in Saudi Arabia

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