Saudi Arabia and Iran’s increasingly bitter dispute about Islamic pilgrimages to Mecca escalated after a senior Iranian cleric publicly called Saudi custodianship of Islam’s two holiest sites as “servitude” and called for their “emancipation.” Ayatollah Javadi Amoli, speaking to an Iranian seminary class, also denounced the Saudi government’s ongoing military campaign in Yemen, Iranian media reported Thursday.
“The custodianship of [Mecca and Medina] should be handed to men of piety,” Amoli, an influential Shiite Muslim scholar, said in comments reported by the semi-official state news agency Mehr. “The current Saudi custodians however are the [descendents] of those who turned it to a house of idols and indulged themselves in drunken revelry,” he said, adding that the conditions of the holy cities’ custodianship should be reviewed with the aim of freeing them “from the servitude” of the Sunni monarchy.
Harsh rhetoric between the two regional rivals is far from…
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