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Khamenei Incites and Hezbollah Drops Hajj Pilgrimage | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A Hezbollah member reacts while Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah talks on a screen during a televised speech at a festival celebrating Resistance and Liberation Day, in Nabatiyeh May 24, 2015. REUTERS/Ali Hashisho

Cairo, Riyadh, Beirut-The Lebanese so-called Hezbollah has joined Iran in boycotting the Hajj season, Lebanese sources confirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat.

One source said that a “directive” was circulated among party members not to participate in the Hajj pilgrimage, warning of dismissal if they don’t abide by the decision.

Other sources said that the decision of Hezbollah to boycott the pilgrimage came in line with the “legal decision of Wali al-Faqih Imam Ali Khamenei in Iran.”

Meanwhile, a twitter user under the name of “a defected Hezbollah member” had warned that the party would send members from its so-called Lebanese Brigades to Saudi Arabia under the cover of participating in the Hajj pilgrimage to create chaos.

However, the decision to boycott the Hajj pilgrimage was not applicable to other Shi’ite bodies, such as the Higher Islamic Shi’ite Council, the official body representing the Shi’ites of Lebanon. The council has already sent an official delegation to the Hajj pilgrimage similar to previous years.

Also, the followers of late Shi’ite preacher Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah have also sent a delegation to the Hajj in Saudi Arabia, chaired by his son Sayyed Ali Fadlallah.

A Shi’ite source, who wished to remain anonymous, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the participation of other Shi’ite bodies in the Hajj pilgrimage is a clear rejection of the Iranian pressure exerted on the Shi’ites of Lebanon to abide by the Iranian decision.

The source said that Iran had exerted a lot of pressure on the Shi’ite bodies, however, the decision of Fadlallah’s son to personally chair the Hajj delegation to Saudi Arabia sends a clear message to the Iranians, although Fadlallah and his followers refused to directly reject Hezbollah’s decisions.

A Lebanese source close to Hezbollah told Asharq Al-Awsat that the party had issued a decision calling on its members not to travel to Saudi Arabia and had launched a campaign to boycott the Hajj pilgrimage this year under the slogan of: “Saudi Arabia is using the money of the Hajj to fight Houthis in Yemen.”

Al-Jadeed television also said that “Hezbollah” had issued a decision stipulating that if any of its members decided to participate in the pilgrimage this year, they will be dismissed from the party.

Hezbollah did not publically announce it had boycotted the Hajj. A source told Asharq Al-Awsat that the party could have circulated a decision among its members not to travel to Saudi Arabia, rather than directly preventing them from participating in the Hajj pilgrimage.

Leading Shi’ite figure Sayyed Mohammed Hassan al-Amine said: “The party’s political attachment to Iran means it automatically abides to the Wilayat al-Faqih and its religious decisions.”

Director of the Umam Documentation and Research center Lokman Slim told Asharq Al-Awsat: “I regret that parties are transforming the Hajj pilgrimage into a dispute based on sectarian and political grounds.”

On Monday, Iran’s Khamenei claimed that the Saudi regime “murdered” the thousands killed in last year’s “hajj disaster.”

Prior to the Iranian politicization of the Hajj pilgrimage, which was denounced both at the Arab and international levels, the Gulf Cooperation Council had condemned the statement issued by Khamenei who had delivered unfounded and abhorrent accusations against Saudi Arabia.

From his part, Deputy Head of al-Azhar Dr. Abbas Shuman told Asharq Al-Awsat: “All al-Azhar Sheikhs stand in support of Saudi Arabia, and call on Muslims not to listen to parties with destructive voices.”

Meanwhile, Arab League’s Assistant Secretary General Ambassador Ahmed Ben Hali said that the Iranian politicization of the Hajj is “rejected.”

Ben Hali revealed that the Quartet, which includes Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain, have presented a report about the Iranian interference, adding: “The politicization of religious convictions will reflect on the ministerial meeting today.”