Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. FILE

Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia

Two Iranian Grand Ayatollahs Call For Calm During Hajj


Two leading Shiite clerics in Iran have urged Iranian pilgrims to respect Saudi law during ‘the Hajj,’ the annual pilgrimage to Mecca due July 7-12.

Grand Ayatollahs Naser Makarem Shirazi and Jafar Sobhani made their call during meetings Friday with Abdolfattah Navvab (Abdul Fattah Nawab), representative for Hajj and pilgrimage affairs of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

Makarem Shirazi said Iranian pilgrims should not behave in ways that could provoke the sensitivities of the Saudis, and that given Iran’s strained relations with Saudi Arabia, Hajj was a chance “to create optimism and dispel pessimism.”

The statements by the two clerics loyal to Khamenei could be a public signal to Saudi Arabia, amid attempts to improve ties between Tehran and Riyadh.

Makarem noted that Hajj was “indirectly” a political issue. Iran and Saudi Arabia broke off formal diplomatic relations in 2016 and the Hajj has sometimes over centuries revealed tensions between Shia Iranian pilgrims and the Saudis, who follow the Wahhabi tradition in Sunni Islam. In 1987 over 400 Iranians died in clashes with Saudi security forces.

Sobhani suggested that Iranian officials should advise pilgrims to “respect the laws of Saudi Arabia and to refrain from doing what is not right.".After two years of pared-down pilgrimage due to Covid-19 pandemic restrictions, this year Saudi authorities will permit 1 million Muslims from inside and outside the country to participate. About 40,000 Iranians are set to attend.

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