18,000 Iranian pilgrims currently in Saudi Arabia for Hajj rituals

IRNA – Head of Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization Hamid Mohammadi said on Tuesday that some 18,000 Iranian pilgrims out of the total number of 86,500 have so far arrived in Saudi Arabia for the annual Hajj rituals.

Speaking to IRNA, Mohammadi added that over half of the figure set off for Mecca after a six-day stay in Medina while over 9,000 Iranian pilgrims are presently in the holy city of Mecca.

Transfer of the Iranian pilgrims to Saudi Arabia kicked off on July 31 and last group of the pilgrims will be back to Iran by September 25. 15,000 of this year’s pilgrims are Iranian Sunni Muslims.

The process of this year’s Hajj has been taking its normal course so far and no special problem was seen yet, Mohammadi said while stressing the need to preserve dignity, respect and safety of the Iranian pilgrims during the annual Islamic gathering.

‘There is no doubt that reflecting realities as well as the peaceful atmosphere in Hajj period will help eliminate concern among the pilgrims and all Iranians,’ Mohammadi addedd.

Referring to a 35 percent increase in the number of Iranian pilgrims compared to the figure in 2015, he said despite the surge in number of pilgrims, services provided for them are satisfactory and acceptable.

Iran stopped sending pilgrims to Hajj over security concerns after two deadly incidents claimed the lives of more than 470 Iranian pilgrims during the Islamic pilgrimage in 2015 when some 4,700 people, including over 465 of the Iranian pilgrims, lost their lives in a human stampede in Mina, near Mecca. Earlier, a massive construction crane had collapsed into Mecca’s Grand Mosque, killing more than 100 pilgrims, including 11 Iranians, and injuring over 200 others, among them 32 Iranian nationals.

Iran announced that it would not send its pilgrims to the annual Islamic gathering unless the Saudi officials guarantee the formers’ security, safety and dignity.

No Iranians attended Hajj congregation in 2016 due to Saudis failure to provide the necessary conditions for their participation. However, the situation is now different in 2017 after the Iranian and Saudi officials reached an agreement upon which the latter became committed to provide necessary grounds for the presence of the Iranian pilgrims in this year’s Hajj rituals.