Iran's ayatollah calls Saudis "infidels" ahead of Hajj pilgrimage

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei criticized the Saudis as unbelievers and questioned the country's role in administering the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca.

"Muslims around the world should recognize the blasphemous nature of the Saudis," Khamenei said Monday in his traditional speech before the Hajj, an annual pilgrimage to holy sites in Saudi Arabia.

Starting on September 11 this year, the annual pilgrimage is a mandatory journey for every Muslim at least once in their lifetime, provided they have enough financial resources and the physical ability to undertake the journey to the birthplace of the Muslim prophet Mohammed.

However no Iranians are to take part in this year's Hajj due to a breakdown in relations with Saudi Arabia.

Khamenei said the deaths of pilgrims during last year's Hajj was further reason to question the legitimacy of Saudi control over the pilgrimage.

According to official figures, 769 Muslim pilgrims - including hundreds from Iran - died in a stampede during a Hajj pilgrimage ritual near Mecca in 2015.

Relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran have been strained since Riyadh executed a Saudi dissident Shiite cleric in January, leading an angry mob to storm of the Saudi embassy in Tehran.

Iranians mostly follow the Shia branch of Islam, while the Saudis follow the Sunni path.

Tensions between the two regional rivals have been heightened by the fact that the two support opposing sides in the Syrian civil war: Iran supports President Bashar al-Assad, while Saudi Arabia supports the rebels.


Last update: Mon, 05/09/2016 - 13:06

More from World

Islamic State storms strategic western town in Iraq counter-attack

Islamic State militants on Sunday seized parts of a strategic western town in Iraq in an apparent response to an...

Trump campaign: "We are behind"

Donald Trump's campaign manager admitted Sunday that the Republican presidential candidate is lagging behind...

Naked Trump sculpture fetches nearly 22,000 dollars at auction

A life-size street art sculpture depicting a fully naked Donald Trump has sold at auction for approximately 22,000...

Cameroon rescuers find more bodies after train crash

Two days after the derailment of a passenger train claimed more than 70 lives in Cameroon, rescuers were searching...

Journalists arrested in Burundi not from BBC, broadcaster says

Two journalists who were arrested in Burundi were "not on assignment" for the BBC, the British broadcaster told dpa...