“Mecca is the House of God and no one can deprive the Muslims of their religious rights. We still believe hajj pilgrimage must not be politicized,” Ohadi said.
Already at loggerheads over a number of regional issues, notably the Syrian crisis and the storming of Riyadh’s diplomatic posts in Tehran and Mashhad, Tehran and Riyadh failed to mend fences over this year’s haj ritual over security concerns expressed by Iran.
Rounds of negotiations were held, coming to no tangible results. They had come up with a draft contract which Tehran rejected as “discriminatory” and “contrary to the dignity of Iranians.”
Tension between Tehran and Riyadh has been escalating since 464 Iranians lost their lives in a stampede in the area of Mina in September 2015 during the last Hajj.
According to the Iranian official, from the outset it was clear to the Iranian side that Saudis won’t be cooperative.
“They (the Saudis) didn’t even observe code of conduct, required fingerprints, and in so doing, they showed their hostility to the negotiations,” Ohadi lamented.
The Saudi officials, he added, “first sent [us] an invitation letter but they then asked to have it postponed and we accepted. They were supposed to give us visa in Month of Esfand (Feb 20-Mach 19, 2016) but they did not.
In a bid to save face, Ohadi added, Saudis issued visa for the Iranian negotiators, but the first round of negotiations took place three and a half months later.