Speaking at a gathering of heads of Hajj convoys of Khorasan Razavi province in northeast Iran, Seyed Ali Qazi-Askar referred to the importance attached to Islamic unity by the late founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Imam Khomeini (RA), and Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, and said everyone should stay away from issues that lead to discord.
He also highlighted the participation of Iranian pilgrims in Hajj last year, after a year of suspension, and said the 2017 Hajj was held properly.
The Saudis stood by their commitment to ensure the dignity of Iranian pilgrims last year, the cleric said.
He added that while Tehran and Riyadh have no political ties now, they have separated Hajj from political issues.
According to the official, more than 85,000 Iranian pilgrims will make the pilgrimage this year, hoping that it will be held better than last year’s.
In May, Head of Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization Hamid Mohammadi said dispatching Iranian Hajj pilgrims to Saudi Arabia will begin on July 16.
He said they will be sent to the kingdom in 576 batches, each consisting 85 to 160 individuals.
He added that the Iranian pilgrims will stay in Saudi Arabia between 28 and 45 days, depending on the conditions at Madinah and Jeddah airports.
In 2017, some 85,000 pilgrims from Iran travelled to the holy sites in Saudi Arabia for Hajj.
A year earlier, more than 1.8 million pilgrims attended Hajj, but Iranians stayed at home after tensions between Riyadh and Tehran boiled over following a deadly crush of people during the 2015 pilgrimage.
On September 24, 2015, thousands of people lost their lives in the deadly crush after Saudi authorities blocked a road in Mina during a ritual, forcing large crowds of pilgrims to collide.
The crush was the deadliest incident in the history of the pilgrimage. According to an Associated Press count based on official statements from the 36 countries that lost citizens in the disaster, more than 2,400 pilgrims were killed in the incident.
Saudi Arabia claims nearly 770 people were killed, but officials at Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization say about 4,700 people, including over 460 Iranian pilgrims, lost their lives.