The secretary-general of the Muslim World League, Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim al-Issa, criticized attempts to politicize the Islamic ritual of Hajj on Wednesday by highlighting the spiritual importance of pilgrimage and warning against any breaches of its intended purpose.
In a statement published by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), the Muslim World League chief described the rise of political, sectarian, and partisan slogans as heresy, a week after Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei described Hajj as “political work”.
Al-Issa added that Saudi Arabia will not allow any behavior that disrupts a peaceful environment for pilgrims.
Khamenei previously called opposition to the politicization of Hajj “anti-religious,” claiming on 3 July that while Saudi Arabia “has the heavy duty of providing security for pilgrims,” it should not make the environment centered around security.
The politicization of Hajj by Iran has been a major concern for Saudi Arabia since the establishment of the Islamic Republic, which has repeatedly attempted to exploit the Hajj to spread its political messages and agendas.
Iranian politicization of the Hajj has often had deadly results. The Iranian regime provoked riots in Hajj in 1987 and 1989, leading to hundreds of deaths.
Last year, more than 2.3 million pilgrims performed Hajj, and this year’s season starts on August 9 and continues until August 14.