Regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran have had an unusually harsh exchange in the lead up to the annual haj pilgrimage in Mecca.
On Monday, the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused Saudi Arabian authorities of murder for their management of last year’s pilgrimage when at least 2,236 people died.
Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti, Al al-Sheikh hit back in a Saudi newspaper saying: “We have to understand that they (Iranians) are not Muslims…Their main enemies are the followers of Sunnah (Sunnis).”
Hassan Rouhani, Iranian President said, “They neither apologised nor did they pay any indemnities. They have not even sought consultation from other Muslims (for handling of the Hajj) in subsequent years. They do not have any new plans for the future either.”
Tensions have been on the rise since the Saudi execution of dissident Shi’ite cleric Nimr al-Nimr and the subsequent storming of the Saudi Arabian embassy in Tehran.
Iranian Pilgrims will be unable to attend the haj this year after talks between the two countries broke down in May. 400 of last years victims were Iranian.