Iranian Culture Minister Ali Jannati was supposed to travel to Saudi Arabia to investigate the death and disappearance of hundreds of Iranian pilgrims, but Saudi authorities have refused to give him a visa.

Ali Jannati

Ali Jannati

ISNA reports that a delegation with representatives from “the ministries of health and foreign affairs as well as red crescent representatives” planned to accompany Jannati on the trip, which had been scheduled for Sunday September 27.

The delegation was to follow up on the incident in Mena which killed hundreds of pilgrims last Thursday.

“The issue of the planned trip by the Iranian delegation was discussed for a third time when the Saudi charge d’affaires was summoned,” Jannati said; “Unfortunately, the Saudi authorities have been as uncooperative as they have always been, and so far we have not heard any response from them.”

Last Thursday, the overcrowding of pilgrims in Mena during the Hajj rituals caused a stampede killing more than 700 pilgrims and injuring close to one thousand. The latest report from Iran put the number of Iranian pilgrims killed in the incident at 169 while another 323 are missing and unaccounted for.

The Saudi authorities have failed to issue any apology and instead have blamed pilgrims for the incident, citing “overcrowding by pilgrims” and “non-compliance with order” as the cause of the incident.

Iran has been highly critical of the Saudi government’s handling of the pilgrimage rituals.