The Leader of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei says the Islamic Republic has been the only critical voice against the deaths of pilgrims during last year’s Hajj rituals in Saudi Arabia, criticizing human rights organizations and other countries for choosing to remain silent on the issue.
“Such silence is a scourge plaguing Muslim nations. This is a catastrophe for the Islamic world,” said Ayatollah Khamenei in a Wednesday meeting with the families of the Iranian pilgrims who lost their lives in tragic incidents that happened during Hajj rituals in Saudi Arabia last year as well as in previous years.
The Leader further stated that Saudi rulers were so “shameless” that they even refused to offer an apology to the Muslim countries who lost their nationals in the tragedy.
The leader noted that even if this were not a deliberate act, all such mismanagement and incompetence by a government and political system amounted to a crime.
Ayatollah Khamenei also said that the Saudi rulers’ failure to guarantee the security of Hajj pilgrims proved that the kingdom did not merit the custodianship of Islam’s two Holy Mosques, adding this “reality should be propagated and well understood in the Muslim world.”
Not only governments, but even scholars, political activists and the Muslim world’s elite remained tight-lipped on the martyrdom of thousands of pilgrims, said Ayatollah Khamenei, adding that failing to show sensitivity vis-à-vis the heart-breaking Mina catastrophe is “the real tragedy” of the Islamic world.
Ayatollah Khamenei said the deafening silence of human rights organizations in the face of Saudi shortcomings in managing the Hajj pilgrimage blew the lid off the “fake identity of those claiming to advocate human rights in the world.”
The Leader further urged those who have pinned their hopes on such international rights institutions to learn a lesson from “this bitter reality.”
“The shameless Saudi regime, with the backing of the United States, is standing against Muslims and is spilling blood in Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Bahrain; therefore, America and other supporters of Riyadh are complicit in Saudi crimes,” the Leader stressed.
Ayatollah Khamenei further called on the Iranian administration, particularly the Foreign Ministry and Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization, to fulfill their responsibilities and follow up on the tragic incident.
At least 465 Iranian pilgrims lost their lives during the stampede, which occurred after two large masses of pilgrims converged at a crossroads in Mina near Mecca during Hajj rituals on September 24, 2015
Riyadh has refused to update the death toll of 770 it released days after the incident.
However, Iran, which had the greatest number of deaths among foreign nationals, has put the death toll at about 4,700.
Just days before the Mina tragedy, a massive construction crane collapsed onto the Grand Mosque in Mecca, killing more than 100 people, including a number of Iranians, and leaving over 200 others wounded.
In a message to Hajj pilgrims on Monday, Ayatollah Khamenei said Saudi rulers were to blame for the deaths of thousands of pilgrims in both incidents during last year’s rituals.
“However, instead of offering apology and expressing regret and prosecuting those directly behind this horrible incident, the Saudi rulers even refused to set up an international Islamic fact-finding mission in ultimate shamelessness and impudence,” Ayatollah Khamenei stated.
Iran has canceled the participation of its pilgrims in this year’s Hajj rituals because of Saudi Arabia’s refusal to guarantee the safety of pilgrims.