SHAAFQNA- Ten individuals involved in the attack on the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Tehran in January 2016 had their prison sentences upheld by an appeals court, according to the lawyer of one of the defendants. Mohammad Narimani said that five individuals were sentenced to six months in prison and five other individuals were sentenced to three months in prison. In the original sentencing, 13 individuals received a suspended sentence; a number of others were acquitted.
In response to the execution of Saudi Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, protesters who had gathered at the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Tehran and at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Mashhad eventually stormed the buildings and destroyed property. Iran arrested approximately a hundred individuals after the attack.
Saudi Arabia cut all diplomatic relations with Iran after the attacks on the embassy. This crisis, however, was preceded by another crisis between the two countries in September 2015 when 474 Iranians were killed in a stampede in Mina while on hajj. Iran accused Saudi Arabia of incompetence and called for Mecca to be under international supervision. Saudi Arabia accused Iran of politicizing the event. Iran skipped the 2016 pilgrimage after the two countries were unable to agree on provisions to guarantee safety for Iranians.
But this year, after intense negotiations, Iranian pilgrims were sent to hajj. According to Iranian media, the first group of Iranian pilgrims in Medina for this year’s hajj were greeted by Saudi Arabia’s deputy minister for hajj.
During a speech to hajj officials July 30, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei discussed Saudi-Iran tensions related to hajj. “We will never forget the tragedy of 2015 hajj,” Khamenei said. He added that the “safety and honor” of all pilgrims is one of the demands of the Islamic Republic. Khamenei also addressed current political events and urged Muslims on hajj to take a united stand against Israel, in light of the Al-Aqsa protests, and the United States. Saudi Arabia has objected to any politicization of hajj.