Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei during a meeting with Hajj officials and prospective hajj pilgrims in Tehran, May 6, 2024

Khamenei Politicizes Hajj Again, Calls for Global Dissociation from Israel

Saturday, 06/15/2024

In an address to Hajj pilgrims, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei urged a global dissociation from Israel and the United States, during the upcoming Hajj ceremonies.

Khamenei’s message also emphasized the need for the dissociation to become a worldwide movement among Muslims.

"This disavowal must be evident in the words and actions of nations and governments, and it should restrict the maneuverability of the executioners and their supporters," he declared.

His comments during the Hajj echo his historical pattern of using the pilgrimage as a platform for political statements, particularly against Israel and the US, and indirectly targeting Saudi Arabia—despite recent diplomatic efforts to ease tensions with Riyadh.

Khamenei obviously hoped that Riyadh would abandon plans to establish ties with Jerusalem after the Gaza war, but this may not be the case due to mediation by the United States.

Last month, Ali Khamenei revisited a phrase introduced by his predecessor Ruhollah Khomeini, "Distancing from the infidels." The concept had previously escalated tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia, contributing to the deaths and injuries of many pilgrims during the 1987 Hajj in Mecca, amid disturbances instigated by Iranian government agents.

The Supreme Leader's politicization of the Hajj contrasts sharply with his calls for Muslim unity. Such contradictions have deepened divisions within the Muslim world, notably during a time when discussions about establishing diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel are underway. His comments have not only exacerbated regional tensions but have also disillusioned many Iranians who view the Hajj as a purely religious obligation, rather than an opportunity for political expression.

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