Saudi Arabia and Iran are known regional rivals. Many antagonisms exist between the two countries, both between their governments and their citizens. Despite this, Saudi King Salman paid a visit to one of the Iranian victims of this past weekend's Mecca crane incident, which killed 107 people and injured 238 others on Friday.
According to journalist Zaid Benjamin:
— Zaid Benjamin (@zaidbenjamin) September 12, 2015
Eight Iranian pilgrims were killed in the incident, including space scientist Dr Ahmad Hatami, and 38 others were injured, reported the Fars News Agency.
In recent months, tensions have significantly arisen between Iran and Saudi Arabia in light of the Saudi campaign against the Houthi rebels in Yemen. Saudi Arabia accuses Iran of arming the rebels, while Iran firmly denies this. In the midst of these tensions, two Iranian teenagers travelling home through the Jeddah airport were sexually assaulted by members of the airport staff this past April.
In reaction, Iran temporarily halted all pilgrimages between Iran and Saudi Arabia, while protesters gathered outside the Saudi Embassy in Tehran demanding the executions of the airport staff in protest.
Each year about 500,000 Iranian pilgrims make the Umra to Mecca. Pilgrimages from Iran to Mecca resumed shortly after the April sexual assault incident.
Reactions on social media to the King's visit to the Iranian woman have been mixed, from criticism of how short the visit was, to praise of the King's human gesture.
Iranian Maria Afsharian comments:
Persian Steel snaps:
@zaidbenjamin im sure he then orderd his officers to rape them as the saudi officers did in jeddah airport to 2 boys!
— Persian Steel (@PersianSteel) September 14, 2015
And Bou_CA describes the visit as a PR exercise:
— Bou_CA (@bou_ca) September 12, 2015
For others, including Nouf Al Abdullah, from Jordan, the visit showed the Saudi king as “real man”:
Shahir Al-Othman, from Jordan, also shares some praise: