Saudi Blocks Iranian Pilgrims from Hajj for Political Gains

A new opinion poll shows that Saudi Arabia has been pursuing political gains by making efforts to block Iranians from this year’s Hajj pilgrimage.

In a survey carried out by PressTV, 2353 respondents said Saudi Arabia is using Hajj as a political instrument.

The results also showed that 774 people believed that the kingdom is incompetent to host the annual Hajj rituals.

According to the survey, 358 interviewers said Riyadh stood against Iran’s conditions to conduct this year’s Hajj pilgrimage.

The participants in the poll were from a wide range of countries but the United States came first with 867, followed by Canada and the United Kingdom with 522 and 318 respectively.

Last month, Iran canceled its participation in this year’s holy pilgrimage to Mecca after Saudi authorities refused to guarantee the safety of pilgrims and created a raft of “obstacles” instead.

Relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia plummeted after the kingdom’s execution of prominent Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr in January.

Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties and halted flights to and from Iran on January 3, following attacks on vacant Saudi diplomatic premises in the Iranian capital and the city of Mashhad by angry people protesting Nimr’s execution.

This as more than 2,400 foreign pilgrims, including more than 460 Iranians, were killed after two large masses of pilgrims converged at a crossroads in Mina, near the holy Saudi city of Mecca, during the symbolic ceremony of the stoning of Satan in Jamarat on September 24, 2015.

The tragedy came days after a massive construction crane collapsed into Mecca’s Grand Mosque, killing more than 100 people and leaving over 200 others wounded. According to the figures released by Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization, 11 Iranian pilgrims were among the dead and 32 of the injured were also Iranian nationals.

Separately, a fire at a 15-story hotel in Mecca on September 21, 2015, forced the evacuation of some 1,500 people. A fire also broke out at another hotel in the city days earlier, which left a number of foreigners injured.


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