Saudi Arabia Rubbishes Iran Plots In Criticism Of Stampede As Shiite Officials Slam Tehran's Political Point-scoring Over Hajj Tragedy
29 September 2015
Saudi Arabia firmly
rejected Iran's criticism of its handling of the Haj pilgrimage Saturday
after Tehran demanded an inquiry into the Mina stampede.
''I believe the Iranians should know better than to play politics with a
tragedy that has befallen people who were performing their most sacred
religious duty,'' Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said, according to AFP.
Al-Jubeir, delivering remarks along US Secretary of State John Kerry,
insisted that Saudi Arabia was on top of the situation.
''The Kingdom has had a long history of spending tremendous resources to care
for the pilgrimage to ensure that the pilgrims who come there have a
successful pilgrimage,'' he said.
''And we will reveal
the facts when they emerge. And we will not hold anything back. If mistakes
were made, who made them will be held accountable,'' Al-Jubeir said.
''And we will make sure that we will learn from this and we will make sure
that it doesn't happen again. I want to repeat again this is not a situation
with which to play politics.
''I would hope Iranian
leaders would be more sensible and more thoughtful with regards to those who
perished in this tragedy, and wait until we see the results of the
Meanwhile, French President Francois
Hollande told Iranian President Hassan Rouhani that the Haj tragedy should
not increase tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran, Reuters said quoting a
Prominent Iranian writer and
academic Sadegh Zibakalam criticized statements made by Iranian officials on
the Mina incident saying that they stemmed from events in Syria and Yemen.
''As opposed to other Muslims, ours were the only reactions aimed at
pre-judging who is responsible for the Mina tragedy,'' he was quoted by Al
Arabiya.net as saying.
''The response (from Iranian
officials) was based on unleashing anti-Arab sentiment that many Iranians
bear. The horrible Mina incident has allowed Iranians to unload their anger
onto Arabs,'' he added.
Iranian officials slam Tehran's ''political
point-scoring'' over Hajj tragedy
Several Iranian officials have criticized Tehran's response to last week's
Hajj stampede that killed 769 pilgrims, with some claiming Iran is attempting
to score ''political points'' by blaming Saudi authorities for the tragedy.
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani
have both blamed Saudi authorities for the tragedy last week, with Khamenei
demanding Saudi Arabia ''apologize to the world's Muslims and the bereaved
families,'' according to state news agency IRNA.
Iran has the highest recorded number of dead from the incident, with at least
144 Iranians killed in the stampede, according to official figures.
However, Mohammad Hashemi, the head of the office of former Iranian president
Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, has pointed to the difficulty in ''making judgments
on matters like this,'' and said it would be wrong to blame the Saudi
authorities for the tragedy.
''We have no right to point the fingers of blame at the authorities in this
country [Saudi Arabia],'' he said.
Prominent Iranian academic Sadegh Zibakalam meanwhile said the Iranian
response to the tragedy was a result of the political disagreements between
both countries on Syria, Yemen, and other regional crises. He said Iran was
attempting to usie the tragedy to score ''political points'' against Riyadh.
He called Tehran's response ''extreme and racist.''
Habib Jabr, head of the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz—an
Iranian–Arab separatist movement—went even further and said the incident may
have been engineered by Tehran in an effort to discredit Saudi Arabia.
On Friday an official from Iran's Hajj mission told Asharq Al-Awsat the
stampede occurred after a group of around 300 Iranian pilgrims failed to
follow orders requiring them to wait for clearance to leave the Jamarat area
near where the stampede took place.
Instead, the official said the group went back to their mission's
headquarters as other groups were on their way to the site as scheduled,
stopping en route and ''causing the coming pilgrims to take a route no more
than 20 meters wide.''
The official added that such behavior often leads to tragic consequences in
Speaking in New York as he attends the UN General Assembly, Saudi Foreign
Minister Adel Al-Jubeir was also critical of Iran's response to the tragedy.
He said Iran ''should know better than to play politics with a tragedy that
has befallen people who were performing their most sacred religious duty,''
according to AFP.
Saudi Arabia's King Salman Bin Abdulaziz has meanwhile ordered an official
investigation into the incident.
''We will reveal the facts when they emerge. And we will not hold anything
back,'' Jubeir said.
''I would hope Iranian leaders would be more sensible and more thoughtful with
regards to those who perished in this tragedy, and wait until we see the
results of the investigation.''