MECCA, Sept 7 (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia’s high non secular authority mentioned Iran’s leaders weren’t Muslims, drawing a rebuke from Tehran in an unusually harsh change between the regional rivals over the operating of the annual haj pilgrimage.

The confrontation on the eve of the mass pilgrimage will deepen a long-running rift between the Sunni kingdom and the Shi’ite revolutionary energy. They again opposing sides in Syria’s civil warfare and a listing of different conflicts throughout the Center East.

Iranian Supreme Chief Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in a message revealed on Monday, criticized Saudi Arabia over the way it runs the haj after a crush final 12 months killed a whole lot of pilgrims. He mentioned Saudi authorities had “murdered” a few of them, describing Saudi rulers as godless and irreligious.

Responding to a query by Saudi newspaper Makkah, Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Sheikh mentioned he was not stunned at Khamenei’s feedback.

“We’ve to know that they aren’t Muslims … Their essential enemies are the followers of Sunnah (Sunnis),” Al al-Sheikh was quoted as saying, remarks republished by the Arab Information.

He described Iranian leaders as sons of “magus,” a reference to Zoroastrianism, the dominant perception in Persia till the Muslim Arab invasion of the area that’s now Iran 13 centuries in the past.

Khamenei met with the households of Iranians killed in final 12 months’s catastrophe on Wednesday and known as for a fact-finding committee to analyze the reason for the crush.

“The evil household tree of the Saudi dynasty doesn’t have the competence to handle the holy shrines,” Khamenei mentioned.

Anadolu Company by way of Getty Photos

An enormous building crane buffeted by sturdy winds collapsed and crashed via the roof of the Grand Mosque which surrounds the Kaaba, Islam’s holiest website on September 12, 2015.


Al al-Sheikh’s remarks drew an acerbic retort from Iran’s Overseas Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, who mentioned they had been proof of bigotry amongst Saudi leaders.

“Certainly; no resemblance between Islam of Iranians & most Muslims & bigoted extremism that Wahhabi high cleric & Saudi terror masters preach,” Zarif wrote on his Twitter account.

Saudi authorities usually search to keep away from public dialogue of whether or not Shi’ites are Muslims, however implicitly acknowledge them as such by welcoming them to the haj, and by accepting Iranian visits to the Saudi-based Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

Tensions between the 2 nations have been rising since Saudi Arabia lower ties with Iran in January following the storming of its embassy in Tehran, itself a response to the Saudi execution of dissident Shi’ite cleric Nimr al-Nimr.

Talking close to Mecca’s Nice Mosque and clad within the conventional white gown of a pilgrim, Moussa Abdi, a member of Algeria’s parliamentary international affairs committee, mentioned the area should work to restore its ideological and political rifts.

“We aren’t alone on this world, and we face different political conflicts. We’ve to unite … We’ve to recover from these variations which purpose at creating rifts throughout the Islamic world,” Moussa instructed Reuters.

Custodian of Islam’s most revered locations in Mecca and Medina, Saudi Arabia stakes its fame on organizing haj, one of many 5 pillars of Islam which each able-bodied Muslim who can afford to is obliged to undertake no less than as soon as.

Riyadh mentioned 769 pilgrims had been killed within the 2015 catastrophe, the very best haj dying toll since a crush in 1990. Counts of fatalities by nations who repatriated our bodies confirmed that greater than 2,000 folks could have died, greater than 400 of them Iranians.

Iran blamed the 2015 catastrophe on organizers’ incompetence. This 12 months pilgrims from Iran will likely be unable to attend haj, which formally begins on Sept. 11, after talks between the 2 nations on preparations broke down in Could.

(Reporting by William Maclean, Sami Aboudi, Noah Browning and Babak Dehghanpisheh; Modifying by Gareth Jones)