Measures Taken to Ensure Safety of Hajj Pilgrims

Elias Hubbard
August 2, 2017

Almost 90,000 Iranians are expected to attend the haj in Mecca this year, and were due to start arriving on Sunday, after Tehran boycotted the pilgrimage last year amid tensions with Saudi Arabia.

Amid talks with regional allies Sunday, Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir rejected what he perceived to be Qatar's request that his country lift absolute control over Islam's two holiest sites, a demand his Qatari counterpart denied ever making.

It was announced a few days ago that 86,500 Iranian pilgrims will go to Saudi Arabia by 335 flights this year.

Qatar's National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) said on Saturday that it had filed the complaint to the United Nations special rapporteur on freedom of belief and religion over the "obstacles" put in place for Qataris planning to perform the annual Hajj pilgrimage. Saudi Arabia maintains strict regulations on religious tourism, especially to the city of Medina, which sees millions of Muslim worshipers from around the globe each year.

On Saturday, Qatar's National Human Rights Committee said it had informed the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion of what it said obstacles and difficulties facing Qatari pilgrims. It added that the aim of the complaints is to seek lifting of restrictions placed on Qatar's pilgrims rather than internationalisation of the holy site issue as claimed by Saudi officials.

Iran boycotted the haj a year ago after hundreds of people, many of them Iranians, died in a crush at the pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia in 2015, and following a diplomatic rift between the two countries who are vying for power and influence in the region.

"The serious and constant issue for the Islamic Republic is the preservation of the security, dignity, welfare and comfort of all pilgrims, particularly Iranian pilgrims", Khamenei said, according to his official site.

Another flight, scheduled to fly for Saudi Arabia at 4:55am on 1 August, has been cancelled for the same reason, Shakil said.

"Many of these registrants have joined Hajj campaign to begin their holy ritual".

15,000 of Iranian pilgrim are Sunni Muslims.

On Sunday, foreign ministers of the four countries said they were ready for dialogue with Qatar if it showed willingness to tackle their demands and "fights terrorism".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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