A top Saudi cleric has declared that Iranians are “not Muslims” after Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei slammed Saudi Arabia for poorly managing the hajj pilgrimage.
The remarks were made by Grand Mufti Abdulaziz Al Sheikh a day after Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused Saudi authorities of killing Muslims injured during last year’s crush of crowds at the hajj pilgrimage.
On Tuesday, Grand Mufti Abdulaziz Al Sheikh told Makkah newspaper that:
“We must understand these are not Muslims, they are children of Zorostrians”
He went on to say “Their (Shias) hostility towards Muslims is an old one, Especially the Sunnis“
The majority of Iranians are Shiite Muslims, while most in Saudi Arabia are Sunni. Saudi Arabia and Iran back opposite sides of the wars in Syria and Yemen, and support opposing political groups in Iraq, Bahrain and Lebanon. The two countries severed diplomatic relations in January after Saudi Arabia executed a prominent Saudi Shiite cleric and angry Iranian crowds overran Saudi diplomatic missions.
Khamenei accused Saudi Arabia’s ruling family, who are the custodians of Islam’s holiest sites in Mecca and Medina, of politicising the pilgrimage, and turning themselves into “small and puny Satans who tremble for fear of jeopardising the interests of the Great Satan (the United States).”
On Monday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei said “The heartless and murderous Saudis locked up the injured with the dead in containers – instead of providing medical treatment and helping them or at least quenching their thirst. They murdered them.”
The September 2015 stampede and crush of pilgrims killed at least 2,426 people, according to an Associated Press count. Iran had the highest of death toll of any country, with 464 Iranian pilgrims killed.
Saudi authorities have not released any findings of their investigation into the hajj disaster. Preliminary statements suggested the crush was caused when at least two large crowds intersected.
Negotiations between the two countries over hajj security measures also collapsed earlier this year, prompting Iran to declare it would not be sending any of its citizens to this year’s pilgrimage, which begins this weekend.