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Saudi King hits out against ‘politicising’ haj

Saudi King hits out against ‘politicising’ haj

Saudi and Iran have been involved in a war of words over the haj pilgrimage


Saudi’s King Salman has spoken out against attempts to politicise haj, following the kingdom’s recent row with Iran over the annual pilgrimage.

Addressing dignitaries at the royal court in Mina on Tuesday, he said: “The kingdom utterly rejects any attempt to turn this great ritual into something that tries to achieve political goals, express ideological differences or settle sectarian disputes.”

He added: “Almighty Allah orders that haj be performed by all Muslims without distinction.”

Saudi Arabia and Iran have been engaged in a public verbal spat following a stampede at the annual haj pilgrimage last year in which hundreds of pilgrims – many of them Iranians – died.

Earlier this month, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei criticised the kingdom’s organisation of the haj, accusing authorities of having “murdered” some pilgrims.

In response, Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Sheikh accused Iranian leaders of “not being Muslims.”

Read more: Saudi’s Grand Mufti says Iran’s leaders ‘not Muslims’ as haj row mounts

However, in his speech, King Salman urged all Muslims to unite and fight against extremism.

“Exaggeration (in religion) and extremism are abhorred … When it enters the body of the Muslim nation, it spoils its unity, future and image before the world.

“There is no salvation from this affliction except to uproot it without mercy, and with the unity of Muslims, to destroy this epidemic,” he said.

He added: “Islam is the religion of peace, justice, brotherhood, love, and benevolence. What is being experienced by the Muslim world today, in conflicts, tragedies, divisions and rivalries, necessitates that we exert all efforts for our unity and that we work together to resolve and end those conflicts.

“The kingdom confirms its constant willingness and desire to unite the ranks of Muslims, assist them and work to support all good efforts for the interest of Muslim countries.”

Over 1.8 million pilgrims arrived in Saudi Arabia this year to perform the haj. There were extra security measures in place to avoid a repeat of last year’s tragedy.

“Saudi Arabia has made use of all its potential to serve the pilgrims, ensure their comfort, and provide all means and ways to make the performance of their rituals easy and comfortable,” the King added.


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