TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - In a statement released on Monday, the Syrian Ministry of Religious Endowments (Awqaf) said that the requirement to perform the religious duty was not ensured because it was being “politicized by the Wahhabi Saudi authorities despite the ministry’s repeated contacts with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OSC) and the Saudi Ministry of Hajj in this regard through the Syrian Foreign and Expatriates Ministry.”
Relations between Riyadh and Damascus have long been strained and the outbreak of militancy in Syria deteriorated the already difficult ties, as Saudi leaders supported and funded the armed opposition groups, which had entered a full-scale war with the government troops across the Arab country. In February 2012, Riyadh ultimately closed its diplomatic mission in Syria and expelled the Syrian ambassador from the Arab kingdom, severing its relations with Damascus altogether.
From that time forward, the move requires Syrians, who want to perform the Hajj rituals, to obtain visas in third countries through the so-called Syrian High Hajj Committee, which is run by the Saudi-backed Syrian National Coalition (SNC), dubbed by the Monday’s statement as “the enemies of the homeland.”
“What some tourism offices in Lebanon do with some Syrian citizens is not to facilitate the performance of the Hajj, but rather it is political and financial exploitation of the religious event by Saudi authorities through the so-called Supreme Hajj Committee of Syria,” the statement said.
On Saturday, a Qatari rights group accused Riyadh of “politicizing” the Hajj pilgrimage.
Saudi Arabia organizes the Hajj pilgrimage as the custodian of Islam's holiest sites in the cities of Mecca and Medina, Presstv reported.
However, serious questions were raised about the competence of Saudi authorities to manage the Hajj rituals following two deadly incidents in September 2015. More than 100 pilgrims lost their lives after the collapse of a massive construction crane into Mecca’s Grand Mosque. About 4,700 people also died in a human crush, according to the figures provided by Iran.
Syria has been fighting different foreign-sponsored militant and terrorist groups since March 2011. UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura estimated last August that more than 400,000 people had been killed in the crisis until then.