Aug 3, 2019, 2:30 PM
Journalist ID: 1114
News Code: 83422949
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Hajj, a venue for manifestation of Muslim unity

Tehran, Aug 3, IRNA – Tens of thousands of Muslims gather together from all across the world each year in the holy city of Mecca to perform Hajj pilgrimage. Undoubtedly, this is a unique opportunity to enhance unity and solidarity within the Islamic Ummah.

Without any distinction as to race, gender, language or nationality, Muslims from different world countries walk around the Holy Kaaba, the most sacred site in Islam, counterclockwise, shoulder to shoulder, as a sign of faith to Allah.   

Nothing has been able to undermine or overshadow this religious ritual over the past centuries. Hajj brings Muslims together, no matter which sect of Islam they belong to.

Relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia became tense following the stampede tragedy during the annual Hajj in 2015 when 464 Iranian pilgrims lost their lives along with hundreds from other countries.  

In Iran, many believed that the incident occurred due to the incompetence of the Saudi organizers of the ritual and suggested that the government should suspend sending Iranian pilgrims to Saudi Arabia as a sign of protest. But the Iranian government rejected their demand, arguing that Hajj pilgrimage is a religious ritual that has nothing to do with political issues between the governments.

A year later, angry Iranian protestors stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran as well as the country's consulate general office in the city of Mashad in the northwestern country, following Riyadh's execution of a prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqer al-Nimr. Saudi Arabia cut off diplomatic relations with Iran after the incident.

Despite lack of any diplomatic relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia, officials from both countries have prepared the ground for performing Hajj by Iranian pilgrims over the past four years. Iran insists that Hajj pilgrimage should not be stopped by any means.

Iranian Hajj pilgrims are boarding a plane in central province of Qazvin to carry them to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia for Annual Hajj pilgrimage

Saudi Arabia even increased Iran’s share of pilgrims so that a total number of 86,000 Iranians could fly to the country for Hajj pilgrimage this year. It is also the first time that women compose 57% of Iranian pilgrims.

Iranian officials are reiterating that the Saudi organizers of Hajj are treating the Iranian pilgrims in a proper manner this year.

Hojjatoleslam Abdolfattah Navvab, the Supreme Leader’s representative in charge of Hajj affairs said that the behavior of Saudi officers has been good and quite satisfactory.

Head of Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization, Alireza Rashidian, who was visiting Medina Airport, described Saudi Arabia’s cooperation in the matters relating to Iranian flights as satisfactory. He hailed the reception of Iranian pilgrims at Saudi airports.   

The behavior of Saudi airport officers has improved compared to previous years and there is no special problem in this regard, Rashidian said.  

Some observers say that the number of Saudi police officers in the religious sites seems to have reduced in comparison to the preceding years.  

Videos of Saudi passport officers who are greeting Iranian pilgrims at the airport in Persian have been circulating by Arab social media users over the past days.   

"CNN Arabic" also covered the reports about the videos, saying the social media users believed it meant that Hajj pilgrimage is far from political differences.

Qassem Naseri, an official with Iran’s Organization of Hajj and Pilgrimage said that this year is the year of cooperation with the host country so as to ensure peace and more services for Iranian pilgrims.

by: Ahmad Mohammadi

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