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Authorities turn down Iran pilgrimage requests

By Omar Obeidat - Jun 07,2015 - Last updated at Jun 07,2015

In 2014, some 30,000 people of different nationalities visited the shrines and tombs in Southern Mazar in Karak (Photo courtesy of Southern Mazar Awqaf Department)

AMMAN – Jordan has turned down several Iranian requests to allow groups of religious tourists into the Kingdom, a government official said.

Minister of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Hayel Dawood told The Jordan Times Sunday that officials in Tehran have made several "verbal" requests to boost ties with the Kingdom, including religious tourism. 

Dawood said that five requests were made last year to allow Shiite pilgrims to visit tombs and shrines of Prophet Mohammad’s companions buried in Southern Mazar in Karak, adding that all the offers were turned down. 

"Our reply was that we welcome better ties but the issue of religious tourism is not possible due to current sectarian tensions in the region," the minister said. 

The official said that Tehran was eager to organise regular trips to religious shrines in the southern governorate of Karak, some 150km south of Amman. 

Iranian officials, including the former ambassador to Jordan, have repeatedly said that Tehran was willing to promote commercial ties with Jordan, including an offer to supply the Kingdom with its oil needs for 30 years in return of allowing Shiite religious tourism. 

The religious significance of the Southern Mazar sites dates back to 629AD when the leaders of the Muslim army — Jaffar Bin Abi Taleb, Zeid Bin Haretha and Abdullah Bin Rawaha — were killed in the Mutah battle against the Byzantines.

In 2014, some 30,000 people of different nationalities visited the shrines and tombs. 

 

According to officials in Southern Mazar, the tourists were from India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Thailand, Singapore, Turkey, Australia, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq.

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