Tehran, Iran, May 9
By Mehdi Sepahvand - Trend:
Iran has said it is likely to refrain from sending nationals on the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia this year.
The announcement was made by Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari during a press conference, Trend correspondent reported May 9.
Iran has been requesting Saudi Arabia to guarantee the safety of Iranian pilgrims, but Riyadh has shown a cold shoulder.
The request comes as Iran lost some 400 lives during last year's hajj ritual when over 2,000 Muslims from around the world were crushed in a deadly stampede while taking the pilgrimage in Mecca.
"We regret that Saudi Arabia has been putting turns and twists into taking necessary measures for long. If such behavior had continued in a few days ahead when there is still time to pursue the issue, then the Saudi government would have blocked the way to God [an Islamic expression]," the spokesman said.
"We hope to the last moment that Saudi Arabia stops this wrong behavior and acts to its natural duties as the host of the hajj ritual. But if it continues the way it has been so far, it would regrettably be impossible to send Iranians on hajj," he said.
A day earlier, a member of the Iranian Parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Committee said that hajj pilgrimage may be cancelled for Iranians this year as Saudi Arabia is refusing to give guarantees that it will take care of the lives of pilgrims.
Today the committee held a session with Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization officials, where it was said that Saudi Arabia has not guaranteed the safety of the pilgrims, Mohammad Hassan Asafari said May 8.
He said as Saudi Arabia is unlikely to announce that it is ready to protect the pilgrims within a 7-day deadline set by Iran, Tehran may just cancel sending pilgrims on hajj this year.