Iran’s president: Saudi should be ‘punished’ for hajj deaths


TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani says Islamic countries should take “punitive” measures against Saudi Arabia following the deaths of over two thousand pilgrims in a crush of crowds during last year’s hajj.

The official IRNA news agency quotes Rouhani Wednesday as saying the pilgrims lost their lives because of the “lack of qualification” of Saudi authorities.

Rouhani says “regional countries and the Islamic world should take coordinated measures to punish the government of Saudi Arabia in order to have a real hajj.”

According to an Associated Press count 2,426 pilgrims were killed in last September’s hajj stampede, among them 464 Iranians.

Tensions have flared between the regional rivals, with Iran’s supreme leader recently saying Saudi “murdered” injured hajj pilgrims and Saudi’s grand mufti countering by claiming that Iranians are “not Muslims.”

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.