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Saudis bar Iranian Qoran reciters from Saudi contest.

The Islamic Republic complained last week that Saudi Arabia has refused to issue visas for three Iranian Qoran memorizers to attend a Qoran recitation contest in Mecca.

Saudi Arabia has not said why the visas were denied. It wasn't clear if there was a political motivation, a bureaucratic snafu or an act of anti-Shiite bias.

Iran did not indicate if the trio denied visas were all the Iranians trying to attend the conference and just part of the Iranian team.

Deputy Culture Minister Bahman Dorri publicly criticized Saudi Arabia last Tuesday, the day before the recitation contest began.

"I was struck with sadness to hear the news and I think it is quite the opposite of the Qoranic teachings that promote respect," he said.

Dorri said the Iranian sponsors of the contestants submitted the visa requests three months in advance of the contest, the 32nd King Abdul Aziz International Qoran Recitation and Memorization Competition, held from December 27 to January 2 in Mecca.

Dorri said Iranian officials followed up the applications several times by telephone until they finally received word from the Saudis that the visa applications had been turned down.

Qoran recitation contests are a common feature in the Islamic world. The three Iranians were to participate in three categories of memorization--one for those who have memorized a third of the Qoran, one for those who have memorized two-thirds and one for those who have memorized the entire holy book.
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Publication:Iran Times International (Washington, DC)
Geographic Code:7SAUD
Date:Jan 7, 2011
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