Saudi deaths: Tehran urged to speed up probe as foul play suspected

Updated 10 June 2015
0

Saudi deaths: Tehran urged to speed up probe as foul play suspected

JEDDAH: The Foreign Ministry has summoned the Iranian ambassador to express its concern over the deaths of four Shiite Saudi children in his country, and to urge Tehran to speed up its investigation.
Osama Nugali, head of media at the Saudi Foreign Ministry, said there was “deep sorrow” in government at the news that four young Saudis had died and 28 others got sick from what appears to be a poisonous chemical they had inhaled while in their rooms in Mashhad on Sunday.
“The Saudi Foreign Ministry summoned the Iranian ambassador to the Kingdom and expressed its deep concern at the incident, and its hope that the Iranian authorities speed up the investigation and disclose the circumstances involved,” he said.
Nugali said that shortly after the incident occurred, the charge d’affaires and officials at the consulate in Mashhad went to the hotel to check on the Saudis and provide support, including, medical care.
The embassy also communicated with the Iranian Foreign Ministry and other departments in Mashhad to launch an investigation. “The incident is a matter of concern and the Saudi government is following up on the case,” Nugali said.
Meanwhile, Iran’s Health Minister Hassan Hashemi was reported as saying on Tuesday that the Saudis “may have been deliberately poisoned.”
Hashemi said that the poison was from a fumigation operation in the hotel where the Saudis were staying. Traces of this poison were found in samples of blood taken from the deceased, but a probe was under way, he said.
Hashemi said 32 Saudi visitors were poisoned, of whom four died and seven are being treated in the intensive care unit of a local hospital.
Mohammad Qanie, president of the hotel owners’ association in Mashhad, in northeast Iran, said the manager of Al-Tawhid Hotel in the city was arrested and the building closed. The hotel was licensed and had no previous problems, he said.


Christchurch Muslims praise King Salman’s Hajj offer

Updated 41 min 12 sec ago
0

Christchurch Muslims praise King Salman’s Hajj offer

  • The president of the Muslim Association of Canterbury Shagaf Khan said people will be both financially and spiritually supported during the journey
  • Khan said a trip to Makkah would normally cost around 10,000 New Zealand dollars ($6,769), but King Salman’s offer would cover pilgrims “from the time they leave their house and come back”

CHRISTCHURCH: King Salman’s Hajj offer to host families of those affected by March’s Christchurch terror attacks is “something really special,” said the president of the Muslim Association of Canterbury, Shagaf Khan.
The Saudi king has offered to host and cover the expenses of 200 Hajj pilgrims when they journey to Makkah this year.
Khan said people will be both financially and spiritually supported during the journey. “For some of them, it’ll be a great comfort feeling like they’ve fulfilled the obligations of being a Muslim,” he added.
Khan said a trip to Makkah would normally cost around 10,000 New Zealand dollars ($6,769), but King Salman’s offer would cover pilgrims “from the time they leave their house and come back.”
When asked what the offer would mean for Canterbury’s Muslim community, Khan said it is part of the solidarity and support that has been shown to them since the Christchurch terror attacks, which claimed the lives of 51 people.
“Four months on … people still feel supported and they feel they’re still being remembered,” he added.
Sheikh Mohammed Amir, who is working closely with the local community, Saudi Arabia’s Embassy and its Ministry of Islamic Affairs to implement King Salman’s offer, said it will be available for those who had lost family members or been injured in the mosque attacks.
Canterbury’s Muslims are “very appreciative” of the offer, added Amir, who is chairman of the Islamic Scholars Board of New Zealand.
“I’ll say with full confidence that this will be a big relief for the deceased’s families, for the victims, for all those who’ve been injured and affected,” he said.
When asked how the organization of the pilgrimage is going, Amir said “so far, so good,” but added that it has been challenging without official records to track everyone down.
He said it is an honor and a responsibility to help organize the pilgrimage, which he has been helping to plan since the end of Ramadan. “People are very excited about it,” he added.
He said he believed that the king’s offer had been made to help people’s rehabilitation after the terror attacks.
“The community believes he’s going to contribute in building Christchurch and bringing people to a normal life,” Amir added.