Shiite Muslim power Iran and the conservative Sunni kingdom, Saudi Arabia, took further steps to sever commercial ties yesterday, as Iran announced a ban on imports from Saudi Arabia and Saudi groups called for
boycotts of Iranian products.

Iran also reaffirmed a ban on Umrah pilgrimages to holy Makkah. Saudi Arabia severed ties with Iran on Sunday over the storming of its embassy in Tehran, intensifying a diplomatic crisis set in motion on Saturday after Saudi’s execution of a prominent Shi’ite cleric.

The cleric, Sheikh Nimr Al-Nimr, was an opponent of the ruling dynasty and demanded greater rights for Saudi Arabia’s marginalized Shiite minority. The last time Iran stopped its citizens from going on pilgrimage to Makkah was in 1987, after 400 mostly Iranian pilgrims were killed by Saudi riot police.

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