Iran seeking rise in Hajj quota

Tasnim – Head of Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization Hamid Mohammadi said the country has sought an increased quota for the 2018 Hajj, adding that if the Saudi side agrees with it, 90,000 Iranians will make the pilgrimage this year.

Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Mohammadi said some 1.3 million Iranians who signed up some ten years ago for attending Hajj are in line for making the pilgrimage.

Referring to the negotiations held with Saudi Arabia on Iranians’ participation in this year’s Hajj, he said the Hajj quota for Iran is expected to be the same as the previous year’s unless the Saudi side agrees with a request for an increase of 5,000 pilgrims.

In that case, Mohammadi said, as many as 90,000 Iranians will take part in the 2018 Hajj.

The official also said that the first batch of Iranian pilgrims are scheduled to fly to Saudi Arabia on July 17.

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.