Middle East

Crowds rally in Iran against Saudi Arabia ahead of hajj

  • Iranian protesters chant slogans as one of them holds a placard reading "oh Islam! we will sacrifice our lives for you", after weekly Friday prayer in Tehran, Iran, Sept. 9, 2016. Thousands of Iranians marched through the streets Friday to protest Saudi Arabia ahead of the hajj, a sign of soured relations between the two countries following last year's crush and stampede during the annual pilgrimage. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

    Iranian protesters chant slogans as one of them holds a placard reading "oh Islam! we will sacrifice our lives for you", after weekly Friday prayer in Tehran, Iran, Sept. 9, 2016. Thousands of Iranians marched through the streets Friday to protest Saudi Arabia ahead of the hajj, a sign of soured relations between the two countries following last year's crush and stampede during the annual pilgrimage. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)  (The Associated Press)

  • Iranian protesters chant slogans against the ruling Al Saud family of Saudi Arabia, America and Israel during a rally after weekly Friday prayer in Tehran, Iran, Friday, Sept. 9, 2016. Thousands of Iranians marched through the streets Friday to protest Saudi Arabia ahead of the hajj, a sign of soured relations between the two countries following last year's crush and stampede during the annual pilgrimage. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

    Iranian protesters chant slogans against the ruling Al Saud family of Saudi Arabia, America and Israel during a rally after weekly Friday prayer in Tehran, Iran, Friday, Sept. 9, 2016. Thousands of Iranians marched through the streets Friday to protest Saudi Arabia ahead of the hajj, a sign of soured relations between the two countries following last year's crush and stampede during the annual pilgrimage. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)  (The Associated Press)

  • Iranian protesters hold placards with pictures of Ayatollah Sheik Isa Qassim, Bahrain's top Shiite Muslim cleric during an anti-Saudi rally after weekly Friday prayer in Tehran, Iran, Friday, Sept. 9, 2016. Thousands of Iranians marched through the streets Friday to protest Saudi Arabia ahead of the hajj, a sign of soured relations between the two countries following last year's crush and stampede during the annual pilgrimage. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

    Iranian protesters hold placards with pictures of Ayatollah Sheik Isa Qassim, Bahrain's top Shiite Muslim cleric during an anti-Saudi rally after weekly Friday prayer in Tehran, Iran, Friday, Sept. 9, 2016. Thousands of Iranians marched through the streets Friday to protest Saudi Arabia ahead of the hajj, a sign of soured relations between the two countries following last year's crush and stampede during the annual pilgrimage. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)  (The Associated Press)

Thousands of Iranians have taken to the streets to protest against Saudi Arabia ahead of this year's hajj pilgrimage.

The demonstrators shouted "Death to Al Saud!" — a reference to the kingdom's ruling family. State media reported similar protests across the country after Friday prayers.

Iranians won't be attending this year's pilgrimage as diplomatic ties between Shiite power and the Sunni-ruled kingdom remain severed amid tensions between the two Mideast nations.

Iran recently stepped up criticism of Saudi Arabia over its handling of the stampede and crush during last year's hajj. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei even said Saudi Arabia "murdered" hajj pilgrims who were injured in the disaster.

The stampede killed at least 2,426 people, according to an Associated Press count. Tehran has said the disaster killed 464 Iranians.