Iranian deputy FM: visa requirements for pilgrimage to Iraq not to be lifted

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Consular, Parliamentary and Expatriates’ Affairs Hassan Qashqavi announced that visa requirements for pilgrims traveling to Iraq for Arbaeen will not be waived under any circumstances.

Speaking to the Tasnim News Agency in the southwestern city of Khorramshahr on Sunday, Qashqavi pointed to the massive influx of Iranian pilgrims arriving in the country’s joint borders with Iraq, and said over 1,550,000 pilgrims have passed border crossings so far.

The Iranian diplomat went on to say that the number of pilgrims traveling to Iraq has increased by 47 percent compared with the last year.

He also rejected claims that crossing borders is possible without visa, saying that visa requirements will not be lifted under any conditions.

Arbaeen, which is one of the largest religious gatherings in the world, comes 40 days after Ashura, the martyrdom anniversary of the third Shiite Imam, Imam Hussein (AS).

Each year, a huge crowd of Shiites flock to Karbala, where the holy shrine of Imam Hussein (AS) is located, to perform mourning rites.

Last year, around 20 million pilgrims from all over the world gathered in Karbala to attend the mourning ceremonies marking Arbaeen.