Creating new perspectives since 2009

Iran official criticises Saudi Arabia over arrests, deportations of Iranian pilgrims

June 18, 2024 at 9:10 pm

Saudi and Iranian flags hoisted together [@SAMRIReports/Twitter]

An Iranian official has criticised Saudi authorities’ alleged crackdown on Iranian pilgrims during this year’s Hajj pilgrimage, shortly after the two countries resumed pilgrimage flights since their reconciliation last year.

During a meeting in the Islamic holy city of Makkah, which was reportedly attended by Iran’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Abdolfattah Navvab, an Iranian official representing Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, in Hajj affairs, said that “some of the host country’s [Saudi Arabia’s] actions have been unprecedented in [comparison to] any previous Hajj seasons.”

The official was reportedly referring to the recent expulsion of six Iranian individuals from the pilgrimage – who were identified by Iranian officials as members of an Iranian government media group – which could potentially apparently have been carried out for questionable motives.

An Iranian individual who has been detained in the other holy city of Madinah is also facing harsh conditions with little hope for a release soon, according to Navvab.

READ: Soaring temperatures scorch pilgrims on Hajj in Saudi Arabia

The official’s criticism of Saudi authorities’ actions and handling of the annual pilgrimage, particularly in regard to Iranian citizens and pilgrims, comes shortly after Tehran and Riyadh restarted their pilgrimage flights following the restoration of their diplomatic ties last year, after years of rivalry.

There has not yet been any elaboration on the details of the reported arrests, detentions and deportations, but such measures would have come at a time when the Kingdom has been carrying out extensive checks on the millions of pilgrims in order to determine whether they had a valid Hajj permit.

According to media reports, Saudi authorities have caught and deported around 300,000 individuals this year who had attempted to perform the Hajj without valid documentation and permission.

READ: Iran pardons, commutes sentences of 2,654 prisoners on Eid al-Adha