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Iran: Saudi Arabia Should Apologize for Hajj Deaths

Source: VOA

Iran is demanding that Saudi Arabia apologize for the crush outside the holy city of Mecca that killed 769 people during the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

The evidence of incompetence of the Saudi
front page of Iranian daily Jame Jam

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Sunday in a statement on his Website, "The Saudis should accept the responsibility and apologize to the Muslims and the victims' families. ... This issue will not be forgotten and the nations will pursue it seriously. ... The Islamic world has a lot of questions."

The yearly event ended without incident Saturday.

Saudi Health Minister Khalid al-Falih said Saturday that 934 were injured Thursday in the crush at Mina.

Iranians comprise the largest group of deaths identified so far at 136. Iranian state TV said a former ambassador to Lebanon is among the more than 300 Iranians still missing.

'Crimes,' incompetence

Tehran accused the Saudis of "crimes" and incompetence, and vowed to take legal action in international courts. Iranian leaders said the Saudi kingdom is no longer capable of managing an event that draws more than 2 million people each year.

Iran's state prosecutor, Ebrahim Raisi, said Saudi Arabia's poor management of the crowds of pilgrims amounted to criminal acts "under international law."

Speaking on state television in Iran, he repeated an unconfirmed story contending that local authorities caused the fatal crowding by diverting pilgrims away from a road that was being used by a convoy of the Saudi royal family.

Iran's president, Hassan Rouhani, called on the United Nations to investigate the cause of the stampede disaster "and other similar incidents in this year's Hajj."

Rouhani addressed world leaders at the U.N. development summit Saturday. His foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, also deplored "the disastrous event in Saudi Arabia" during his separate talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in another part of New York.

Playing politics accusation

In New York, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir rejected the Iranian criticism, saying, "the Iranians should know better than to play politics with a tragedy that has befallen people who were performing their most sacred religious duty."

He promised, "If mistakes were made, [the people] who made them will be held accountable. And we will make sure that we will learn from this and we will make sure that it doesn't happen again."

Saudi King Salman, whose official title is "Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques" in Mecca and Medina, ordered "a revision" of how the hajj is organised, and a formal Saudi inquiry is under way into the stampede.

Leaders of both Iran and Saudi Arabia see their nations as playing a dominant role in the Muslim world.

In addition to their regional rivalry, Iranians and Saudis are divided on religious issues: most people in Iran are Shi'ite Muslims, while a majority of Saudi citizens practice Sunni Islam.

... Payvand News - 9/27/15 ... --

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