Iran to participate in pilgrimage to Mecca in spite of spat with Saudi Arabia


Iran government on Wednesday confirmed that its citizens will be able to take part in the Muslim Hajj pilgrimage to the city of Mecca, in spite of diplomatic tension with Saudi Arabia.

Iran had boycotted the 2016 hajj after a stampede in the 2015 pilgrimage that killed at least 2,426 people.

Iran had the highest death toll, with 464 killed in the incident.

“There were some doubt, but the National Security Council cleared things up last week and unanimously confirmed the agreement with the Saudis on Hajj participation,” head of Iranian Hajj Mission, Ali Askar said.

A consular and medical team from Iran will be able to travel with Iranian pilgrims in September, the news agency ISNA reported.

Relations between the two regional rivals reached a low point in 2016 when Iranians were unable to go to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj due to a row about pilgrimage regulations.

Mostly Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran back opposite sides in the wars in Syria and Yemen.

In January 2016, Riyadh cut off diplomatic ties with Iran after a mob stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran in protest against Saudi Arabia’s execution of 47 people, including a prominent Shiite cleric.

Devout Muslims are expected to perform the Hajj, one of Islam’s five pillars, at least once in their lifetime, provided they are fit enough and have the financial means to do so.



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