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Hajj in Jeopardy for Iranians

  • VOA News

FILE - Muslim pilgrims circle the Kaaba, the cubic building at the Grand Mosque in the Muslim holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia, Sept. 20, 2015.

FILE - Muslim pilgrims circle the Kaaba, the cubic building at the Grand Mosque in the Muslim holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia, Sept. 20, 2015.

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.

"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," said Jannati adding that a formal announcement would be issued Monday.

Riyadh said the Iranian demands are unacceptable.

"Iran has demanded the right to organize some kind of demonstrations and to have privileges that come out of the usual course of the organization, and that would cause chaos during the hajj," said Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir. "This is unacceptable."

Saudi media earlier said an Iranian delegation had left without a final agreement for Iranian pilgrims making 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.

FILE - Muslim pilgrims and rescuers gather around the victims of a stampede in Mina, Saudi Arabia during the annual hajj pilgrimage, Sept. 24, 2015.

FILE - Muslim pilgrims and rescuers gather around the victims of a stampede in Mina, Saudi Arabia during the annual hajj pilgrimage, Sept. 24, 2015.

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.

s, while Muslims in Saudi Arabia are predominantly Sunni.

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