Saudi rejects ‘internationalization’ of Hajj pilgrimage


By Viola Fahmy,

Cairo: Riyadh’s ambassador to the Arab League, Ahmed Qattan, has reiterated his country’s rejection of the “politicization” or “internationalization” of the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.

“Attempts to internationalize the Holy Places of Mecca and Medina are part of a wider conspiracy,” Qattan, who also serves as Saudi ambassador to Egypt, tweeted Tuesday.

“These attempts show that certain countries are following the lead of Iran, which has tried in the past to promote these contemptable ideas,” he added, in a veiled reference to Qatar.

Qattan went on to assert that the “politicization and/or internationalization” of Saudi Arabia’s holy sites was a “red line” that was tantamount to “political suicide”.

In recent years, Iran has floated the notion of establishing an “international administration” to manage the annual Muslim Hajj pilgrimage — an idea Saudi Arabia vociferously rejects.

Saudi Arabia severed its relations with Iran in early 2016 after Iranian demonstrators ransacked two Saudi diplomatic missions in Tehran and Mashhad.

Last summer, Saudi Arabia and three Arab states — Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain — collectively severed ties with Qatar, accusing Doha of supporting terrorism and standing too close to Iran.

Qatar, for its part, dismisses the allegations, saying that attempts to isolate it by its fellow Gulf States constitute a violation of international law.



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