TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Iran suspended the Umrah (minor) Hajj pilgrimage on Monday in the wake of molestation of two Iranian teenage pilgrims at Jeddah airport, saying the situation will be normalized once Riyadh hands out the maximum punishment to the offenders.
Speaking to Tasnim on Monday, Spokesman for Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization Hossein Noushabadi said the decision to halt the religious trips was made on the president’s order.
There will be a moratorium on sending pilgrims to Umrah Hajj until the Jeddah airport’s criminal officers are punished, Noushabadi added.
The Umrah is a pilgrimage to Mecca performed by Muslims and can be undertaken at any time of the year in comparison with the major hajj pilgrimage which is performed annually within a specific period of time.
Elsewhere, the Iranian official expressed the hope that the Saudis would honor their pledge to give the molesters the maximum punishment, saying that the mere apprehension of the perpetrators is not enough.
In a Saturday letter to the Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Ali Jannati, President Rouhani tasked the country’s officials at the Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization and the Foreign Ministry to stay in touch with the Saudi officials and pursue the case seriously.
He also called on the Iranian officials to make sure that the offenders are punished and the security of the Iranian pilgrims are guaranteed.
The two Iranian teenage boys were harassed by the Saudi officers at Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport when the offenders took them away during body search, citing suspicion.