0436 GMT February 18, 2020
“Some people say that Hajj is not political; it is false because the political dimensions of the Hajj are in accordance with the demands and instructions of Islam,” Ayatollah Khamenei said, addressing a meeting with Iranian officials in charge of Hajj and pilgrimage affairs in Tehran on Wednesday, Tasnim News Agency reported.
“The unity (among Muslims), support for the oppressed people like the Palestinian and Yemeni nations, or disavowal of pagans, are all political affairs in accordance with the Islamic teachings,” the Leader added.
Ayatollah Khamenei added that therefore, the political dimensions of the Hajj pilgrimage are the same as the religious duties.
“Disavowal of pagans is an Islamic duty and a necessary work, and for this reason, we insist that this issue (the Hajj ritual) is performed every year, in the best way possible,” the Leader noted.
Elsewhere, Ayatollah Khamenei highlighted the “heavy responsibility” of the Saudi government to protect the lives of pilgrims visiting the kingdom in the Hajj season ad said the onus is on Riyadh to provide security for pilgrims without creating “a security atmosphere.”
During a visit to Saudi Arabia in December 2018, Head of Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization Alireza Rashidian held meetings with officials from the kingdom’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah about the 2019 Hajj season.
The two sides signed an agreement at the conclusion of the meetings, aimed at making better arrangements for Iranian pilgrims and preventing the problems they faced in previous years.
The agreement stipulates that 86,500 Iranian pilgrims would go on pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia in the coming Hajj season.
In 2016, 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 2, 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.