Hundreds of Iranians chanted “Death to the treacherous House of Saud” outside the Saudi embassy on Sunday as the Islamic republic’s leader demanded Riyadh apologize for the deadly hajj stampede. Iran starting campaign against Saudi Arabia emboldened by the Obama Iran Deal.
Notice the difference between the usual “Death to America” and the “Death to al-Saud” that specifically targets the rulers of the Saudi regime.
The protesters numbering around 400, some throwing tomatoes and watermelons at the embassy walls, were outnumbered by police who erected tall crowd control barriers to keep them back from the compound, an AFP photographer said.
The demonstration came after the toll from Thursday’s stampede in Mina, near Mecca, rose to 769 pilgrims. At least 155 fatalities at the hajj were Iranian and a further 48 remain in hospital.
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei demanded Saudi Arabia apologize for the disaster.
“Instead of passing the buck and playing a blame game, the Saudis should accept their responsibility and apologize to the world’s Muslims and the bereaved families,” he said.
Iran starting campaign against Saudi Arabia using the Hajj incident to garner Muslim public opinion credit.
The Saudis, for their part, accused some 300 Iranian Hajjis of causing the disaster when they began heading the opposite direction of the crowd flow.
Iran has been fiercely critical of the Saudi authorities’ handling of safety and questioned whether the kingdom was fit to carry on organizing the annual pilgrimage.
Khamenei’s statement came just hours after Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir hit back at criticism from its regional rival, saying it “shouldn’t play politics with a tragedy”.
Iran’s Culture Minister Ali Jannati plans to head a delegation to Saudi Arabia to follow up on 316 Iranians that Tehran says are missing, but state news agency IRNA said his team still has not received visas.
On Saturday, Tehran summoned Saudi Arabia’s charge d’affaires for the third time since the stampede, to press the kingdom for greater cooperation.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani appealed for U.N. mediation with the Saudis in a meeting with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in New York, state television reported.
“Sadly, Riyadh isn’t offering enough cooperation on the missing pilgrims and the transfer of the dead and injured,” it quoted Rouhani as saying.
“It is crucial that the U.N. remind Riyadh of its legal and humanitarian obligations.”
AFP contributed to this article.