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Saudi Arabia Launches Persian Hajj TV Following Tensions With Iran

Muslim pilgrims circle the Kaaba at the Grand mosque in Mecca on September 8.

Saudi Arabia has launched a Persian-language satellite television channel broadcasting the hajj, following tensions with Iran over the annual pilgrimage.

The 24-hour satellite channel will cover hajj rituals and prayers from the Grand Mosque in Mecca.

Minister of Information and Culture Adel al-Turaifi said the channel targets “Persian-language speakers, whose number is estimated at 130 million all over the world.”

Though Saudi authorities allocated around 64,000 places for Iranians, none are taking part this year because of a breakdown in negotiations last May over arrangements, including safety measures needed to avoid a repeat of a September 2015 stampede that killed over 2,300 pilgrims.

The channel is also being broadcast by radio to Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan, as well as through mobile phone applications and the Internet.

The hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam that every capable Muslim must perform at least once in their life.

Based on reporting by AFP and AP