Saudi Arabia welcomes Iranian pilgrims despite rift

Published February 4, 2016
"Any Muslim is welcome in Makkah and Madina... and this includes the Iranian pilgrims," Adel al-Jubeir told reporters.
─ AP/File
"Any Muslim is welcome in Makkah and Madina... and this includes the Iranian pilgrims," Adel al-Jubeir told reporters. ─ AP/File

RIYADH: Iranian pilgrims are still welcome to visit Islam's holiest sites in Saudi Arabia despite increased tensions between the two countries, Riyadh's foreign minister said on Thursday.

"Any Muslim is welcome in Makkah and Madina... and this includes the Iranian pilgrims," Adel al-Jubeir told reporters.

He said the political crisis between the Saudi Arabia and Iran "has nothing to do at all" with the annual Haj pilgrimage or the lesser pilgrimage known as Umrah.

Related: Middle East tensions boil as Saudi Arabia cuts ties with Iran

The rites draw millions of faithful from around the world each year.

In January, protesters burned Riyadh's embassy in Tehran and a consulate in Iran's second city of Mashhad to protest the Saudi execution of a prominent cleric from the minority Shiite community.

Saudi Arabia and some of its allies cut diplomatic ties with Iran as a result.

Related: Iran reacts with fury after Saudis execute Shia cleric

At a joint news conference Thursday with visiting German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Jubeir repeated accusations that Iran's "hostile policies" in the region for more than three decades led to the current situation.

The two countries support opposite sides in the wars in Syria and Yemen. Iran has also consolidated its influence in Iraq and Lebanon.

A stampede during the Haj last September that killed about 2,300 foreign pilgrims, including hundreds of Iranians, added to tensions.

Opinion

A dangerous bargain
Updated 17 Jun 2021

A dangerous bargain

Budget for FY22 faces massive risks such as inflation and a resurgence of the trade deficit.
The Falmouth diet
17 Jun 2021

The Falmouth diet

The Charter is an obsequious affirmation of US’s papacy.

Editorial

Shameful behaviour
17 Jun 2021

Shameful behaviour

Both opposition and treasury members should create space for opinions to be heard and aired.
17 Jun 2021

Sindh budget

A CURSORY reading of the Sindh budget 2021-22 reinforces the impression that Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah’s...
17 Jun 2021

West on China

IN what seems like a distinct return to Cold War rhetoric, the Western bloc has issued back-to-back statements...
Centre-Sindh tension
Updated 16 Jun 2021

Centre-Sindh tension

Such an adversarial state of affairs is not sustainable without damaging the working of the federation.
16 Jun 2021

Punjab budget

PUNJAB is where the battle for power will be fought in 2023. Punjab is also where PTI parliamentarians are perhaps...
16 Jun 2021

Haj decision for women

WHILE this year’s Haj will again be marked by a limited number of pilgrims, the Saudi government’s decision to...