Iran’s Hajj Official Travels to Saudi Arabia

Sunday, December 16, 2018

TEHRAN (IQNA) – Head of Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization left for Saudi Arabia Sunday for talks with the Arab country’s officials on participation of Iranian pilgrims in the 2019 Hajj.

Speaking to reporters before leaving Tehran, Ali Reza Rashidian hoped that preparations for dispatching Iran’s pilgrims will be made during the trip.

He added that the major issue of his negotiations with Saudi Hajj officials will be the importance of maintaining Iranian pilgrims’ dignity and security.

Iran sent 86,000 pilgrims to Saudi Arabia for Hajj this year. In 2017 some 85,000 Iranians made the pilgrimage.

A year earlier, more than 1.8 million pilgrims attended Hajj but Iranians stayed at home after tensions between Riyadh and Tehran boiled over following a deadly crush of people during the 2015 pilgrimage.

On September 24, 2015, thousands of people lost their lives in the deadly crush after Saudi authorities blocked a road in Mina during a ritual, forcing large crowds of pilgrims to collide.

The crush was the deadliest incident in the history of the pilgrimage. According to an Associated Press count based on official statements from the 36 countries that lost citizens in the disaster, more than 2,400 pilgrims were killed in the incident.

Saudi Arabia claims nearly 770 people were killed, but officials at Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization say about 4,700 people, including over 460 Iranian pilgrims, lost their lives.