The approach of the Islamic Republic of Iran towards Hajj has always been spiritual and free from sectarianism or tribalism and this is evident from the collective and active participation of Iranian Hajj pilgrims in the congregational prayers of both Masjid al-Haram and Masjid al-Nabi (s.a.).
The officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran had begun planning and preparation for this years Hajj immediately after the completion of the Hajj rituals of the year 2015; without any hesitation about dispatching Iranian nationals to this years Hajj pilgrimage.
Two rounds of negotiation of technical delegation of the Islamic Republic of Iran with the Saudi political, security and Hajj officials with regards to Hajj pilgrimage of Iranians this year remained inconclusive and despite all the efforts on the part of the Iranian side for paving the way for the Muslims of Iran to perform this religious duty they faced obstacles from the Saudis.
Despite all efforts by the Iranian negotiating team, the first round of negotiations was deliberately delayed by the Saudi authorities for three months and was held in April 2016 instead of January.
By putting up certain illogical conditions like prohibiting the entry of Iran Air to their country and obtaining visas from a third country, the Saudi authorities put hurdles in the first round of discussions.
Even though the Saudi government blames Iranians for politicizing Hajj, the fact of the matter is that while the Iranian negotiating team was completely technical and non-political, on the day of holding the negotiations it was surprisingly witnessed that contrary to the previous years a large number of the members of Saudi negotiating team were from security organizations of that country and the Saudi Ministry of Hajj could not make any decision without their permission. Let the Saudi Ministry of Hajj publish the names and particulars of the negotiating teams of the two sides, so that it could be ascertained which side has politicized Hajj.
In spite of the promises made by the Saudi authorities the visas for the second visit of the Iranian delegation was delayed by 45 days issued after the appointment of Saudis new Minister for Hajj as a result of which the required time for the management affairs related to the preparations made for Iranian Hajj pilgrims was missed.
Keeping in view of the bitter experiences of the previous year for inefficient management of Hajj, which resulted in death of a large number of pilgrims including a large number of Muslims from Africa and 472 Iranians in the two incidents of Mina and collapse of crane in Mecca and the abominable behaviour of the Saudi police and security organizations with pilgrims, Iranian delegation tried to obtain minimum guarantees regarding the safety and dignity of the pilgrims to which the Saudis were unfortunately evasive.
Despite repeated claims by the Saudis to have resolved consular and visa issues, no written agreement has so far taken place between the Saudi ministry of foreign affairs and that of Switzerland on the basis of adopted international conventions.
In order to have enough time for effective management of Hajj logistics, like lease agreements with hotels and training of pilgrims, the Iranian delegation asked the Saudi authorities, while leaving Jeddah, to give their final opinion on the items of disagreement latest by May 29, 2016. However, the Saudi side has unfortunately, instead of presenting satisfactory replies, tried to blame Islamic Republic of Iran by resorting to tools of propaganda and media and of course with political and unjust motives in order to avoid its religious and international obligations.
With firm belief that Hajj should not be infected with political disputes between governments, the Islamic Republic of Iran has remained silent, so far, and showed restraint over the propaganda and various statements by the Saudi political institutions in the hope of the possibility of persuading the Saudi government for a non-political approach towards Hajj. However, when all ways have been closed by the Saudis, the Islamic Republic of Iran is left with no option but to take steps to enlighten the world public opinion.
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