Hajj in Jeopardy for Iranians

Iran’s state media said Sunday that Iranians will not be able to make their Hajj pilgrimage this year because Iran cannot reach an agreement with Saudi Arabia.

According to IRNA, Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Ali Jannati said the decision was made following Riyadh’s behavior with an Iranian delegation that had traveled to Saudi Arabia to negotiate terms for this year’s Hajj.

The minister said “We waited for the response of Saudi officials until today, but given their behavior in the two rounds of negotiations with an Iranian delegation and the obstructions they have created, Iranian pilgrims cannot perform the rituals this year.”

He said a formal announcement would be issued Monday.

Other media outlets are reporting, however, there is still room for negotiating terms for Iranians to make Hajj, a pillar of Islam that devout Muslims must perform once in their lifetime if they are able.

Last year’s tragedy

Ties between the Iran and Saudi Arabia have unraveled after more than 400 Iranians were killed in a crush at last year’s Hajj.

Relations are also tense because Saudi Arabia broke diplomatic ties with Iran after Iranian demonstrators stormed the Saudi Embassy in Tehran after Riyadh executed a Shi’ite cleric.

Muslims in Iran are mostly Shi’ites, while Muslims in Saudi Arabia are predominantly Sunni.

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