Saudi-Iran sectarian tussle has not even spared sacred Hajj 2016

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Saudi-Iran sectarian tussle has not even spared sacred Hajj 2016

RIYADH, May 12, (APP): Saudi Arabia on Thursday denied

blocking Iranian hajj pilgrims after Tehran alleged "sabotage" by its regional rival.

The kingdom "welcomes all pilgrims from all over the world and from all

nationalities and sectarian backgrounds, and does not stop any Muslim from

coming", the ministry of hajj said in a statement carried by Al-Riyadh

newspaper.

But the visits must occur "within the system and guidelines that

organise hajj affairs," the ministry said.

Earlier Thursday Iran said its nationals will miss the annual hajj,

expected in early September, after the two countries severed diplomatic ties

this year.

The ministry said Saudi Arabia "did not at all ban Iranian pilgrims

from coming. The ban came from the Iranian government which uses this as one of its many means to pressure the Saudi government."

The Iranian delegation "refused to sign the agreement to finalise

preparations for this year's hajj... insisting on their demands," the ministry said.

It added that "those who have banned their citizens from this right

(to perform the pilgrimage) will be held responsible for their decision in front of God and the whole world".