TEHRAN, Iran — Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called Wednesday on the Muslim world to unite and punish the Saudi government for its handling of the hajj pilgrimage and wider actions in the region.
“Regional countries and the world of Islam should take coordinated actions to resolve problems and punish the Saudi government,” he 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.
“Unfortunately, this government by committing crimes in the region and supporting terrorism in fact shed the blood of Muslims in Iraq, Syria and Yemen.”
Relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia were already at rock bottom before the regional rivals started trading barbs this week ahead of the start of the annual hajj pilgrimage on Saturday.
Iranians have been blocked from joining the hajj for the first time in almost 30 years after talks on security and logistics fell apart in May.
Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Monday accused Saudi Arabia of “murder” over the deaths of nearly 2,300 pilgrims, including hundreds of Iranians, in a stampede during last year’s pilgrimage.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif hit out at the “bigoted extremism” of the Saudi authorities, responding to claims by Saudi Arabia’s most senior cleric, Grand Mufti Abdulaziz al-Sheikh, that Iranians were “not Muslims.”