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Will film on 2015 hajj disaster further tarnish Iran-Saudi relations?

The imminent unveiling of an Iranian film about the deadly hajj stampede in 2015 is causing waves even before it has been screened, with some warning that it could further inflame relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
A view of the camp city at Mina, near the holy city of Mecca September 24, 2015. At least 310 pilgrims were killed on Thursday in a crush at Mina, outside the Muslim holy city of Mecca, where some two million people are performing the annual Haj pilgrimage, Saudi authorities said. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood - RTX1S7WX
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Sept. 24, 2015, was a tragic day. More than 700 people were killed in a stampede during the annual hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia. The disaster occurred on the first day of Eid al-Adha, when pilgrims perform the ritual known as "stoning the devil" in Mina, near the holy city of Mecca. In Iran, the event is remembered as the “Mina tragedy,” given that some 500 Iranian pilgrims lost their lives. Now, nearly one year later, an Iranian filmmaker is preparing to unveil “September 24”; probably the first cinematic depiction of the tragedy.

One of the film’s main characters is Mohsen Haji Hassani Kargar, an Iranian “qari” (reciter of the Quran) who was killed in the disaster. The 27-year-old, who was known as Haji Hassani, had won first prize at the 57th International Quran Competition in Malaysia in June 2015 and was performing the hajj with a delegation of Quran reciters. “September 24” revolves mostly around the story of Haji Hassani’s life — and death. It has already stirred controversy, with one Saudi website saying that it could become a “new source of tension in Tehran-Riyadh relations.”

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