Saudi Arabia’s silent but historic step


Iranian pilgrims praise Saudi government’s efforts to serve them

This year was rare bright spot in Tehran, Riyadh ties, which has stirred hope of an ultimate detente

JEDDAH: Sept 12 (TNS):  Pilgrims from Iran expressed their admiration for the services provided by the Saudi government during this Haj season.

The Saudi Hajj ministry had announced earlier that the kingdom, the birthplace of Islam, welcomes “all pilgrims from all the different nationalities and backgrounds”.

The Iranian pilgrims said that a public relations campaign needs to be carried out to project KSA’s real image and counter the claims by some Western media organizations, which focus only on the conflicts.

Ferozi Nejad said that what he has seen during the pilgrimage season, from the moment he arrived at the airport, shows Saudi Arabia as a welcoming country.

“If others in Iran were to witness Hajj in action this year, they will experience the great feeling that I am experiencing here in Makkah,” said Nikodast.

Agha Hassan said what drew his attention at Arafat was the motto chosen for this year’s pilgrimage by Makkah governor. “The motto was ‘Haj is a message of peace’ and it truly is,” he said. “We strongly support the Saudi government, which seeks to unite Muslims,” he said.

He added that pilgrimage should not be used by some to peddle their political ideology and that the Kingdom has achieved distinctive results by being considerate for us.

Reza Qurbani also praised the great services provided to Iranian pilgrims. “May Allah bless all the Muslim leaders, Muslim countries and Muslims, May Allah shower blessings upon Malik Salman and his team for excellent service to the Iranian pilgrims?”

“We moved everywhere freely without facing any restrictions. So, will return to our country with great satisfaction and look forward to coming here next year as well,” said Aghayay Karimi.

More than 80,000 Iranian pilgrims were in Saudi Arabia to perform the hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Islam’s holiest sites. The hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam, is obligatory for all able-bodied Muslims, and sees roughly 2 million worshipers descend on Mecca and Medina each year.

Iranian pilgrims returned to hajj as Iran-Saudi ties eased this year after last year’s conflict. The return of Iranian pilgrims followed painstaking negotiations between officials from the two countries. Those discussions probably “helped ease tension,” said Muhammadian Musghar, an Iranian pilgrim. This year was rare bright spot in our relations, which has stirred hope of an ultimate détente, he added.

This week, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that if all goes smoothly, the pilgrimage could set the stage for further talks. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also said last month that Iran and Saudi Arabia were preparing to exchange diplomatic visits. “The visas have been issued for both sides to make this trip,” he told a local news outlet.

This year, Iranian leader Aghayay Khamenei called on Muslims to focus on enemies such as Israel and the United States.



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