[Courtesy Makkah daily]
Jeddah/Tehran: In a hard hitting statement which may further worsen the relationship between the two countries, Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh criticized the Iranian regime and its religious leader Ali Khamenei and described them as enemies of Islam.
In a phone call with the Makkah daily, the grand mufti said the attack of Khamenei on the Kingdom and his criticism of the Kingdom’s Haj arrangements is “not surprising", according to Arab News.
“We have to understand that they are not Muslims; they are the followers of ‘majuws’ (a term that refers to Zoroastrians and those who worship fire). Their enmity toward Muslims is old and their main enemies are the followers of Sunnah (Sunnis),” he said.
He stressed that those who are trying to undermine or disrupt Saudi Arabia’s efforts to conduct a peaceful and secure Haj for pilgrims coming from across the world will not succeed in their nefarious designs.
Muslims of the world fully trust and acknowledge the services rendered by the Saudi government toward the Two Holy Mosques and the pilgrims, added the grand mufti.
On Monday, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif had dismissed Iranian criticism of Saudi Haj management.
“There is no credibility in their claims and they know full well that the Kingdom offers excellent services to all pilgrims, including Iranians,” he said while addressing media during the Haj parade exercise in Mina.
Saudi Arabia, led by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, has spared no effort in providing state-of-the-art services for the safety, comfort and security of all pilgrims, said the crown prince.
The Kingdom will remain firm and steadfast in dealing with any threat that may disrupt the pilgrimage, added the crown prince.
“The Iranian Haj mission made certain requests that were in violation of Haj regulations,” he said.
They were demanding things that jeopardize the security of other pilgrims. The Iranian government blocked its pilgrims from coming to Haj this year with a view to politicizing the pilgrimage.
Meanwhile, Iran is fuming over the Saudi Mufti's statment. On one hand Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif termed the statement "bigoted extremism", Ali Khamenei called upon the world Muslims to "punish" the Saudis.
"Regional countries and the world of Islam should take coordinated actions to resolve problems and punish the Saudi government," Ali Khamenei told a cabinet meeting, according to the IRNA state news agency.
"If the existing problems with the Saudi government were merely the issue of the hajj...maybe it would have been possible to find a way to resolve it and put it in the right direction," he added.