Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has accused Saudi authorities of "bigoted extremism" in a war of words over Iran's exclusion from this year's hajj pilgrimage. "Indeed, no resemblance between Islam of Iranians and most Muslims, and bigoted extremism that Wahhabi top cleric and Saudi terror masters preach," Zarif tweeted late on September 6.
Indeed; no resemblance between Islam of Iranians & most Muslims & bigoted extremism that Wahhabi top cleric & Saudi terror masters preach.— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) September 6, 2016
The comments came after Saudi Arabia's top cleric, Grand Mufti Abdulaziz al-Sheikh, said Iranians -- who are predominantly Shi'a -- were "not Muslims."
The Saudi cleric was himself responding to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's criticism of the Sunni-ruled kingdom's management of the Islamic holy sites of Mecca and Medina.
Iran says it is not sending any pilgrims on this year's hajj beginning September 10 after talks with Saudi officials about security failed.
At least 2,297 pilgrims were killed in a stampede at the pilgrimage in 2015, with Iranians making up the bulk of the victims.
With reporting by AFP
Saudi Arabia's top cleric said Iranians are "not Muslims" in response to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's criticism of the Saudis' handling of the hajj pilgrimage.
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Grand Mufti Abdulaziz al-Sheikh told the daily Makkah newspaper on September 6 that Iranians are descendants of Mujaws, a reference to Zoroastrians and others who worship fire.
He added that Iranians' "hostility towards Muslims," particularly Sunnis, "is an old" thing.
Iranians are predominantly Shi'a Muslim.
Sheikh's comments come one day after Khamenei said Saudi Arabia's management of the Islamic holy sites of Mecca and Medina should be challenged by the Muslim world.
The heated words between the two Mideast rivals come just a few days before the September 10 beginning of the hajj.
Khamenei wrote on his website that "Saudi rulers" had shown "oppressive behavior" toward hajj pilgrims and because of that should reconsider who manages Mecca and Medina.
Based on reporting by AFP and AP
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