Both the Iranian and Saudi media have framed the debate, not just in the context of a human tragedy, but in the context of their geostrategic rivalry and this tells you how fierce the regional cold war is.

Fawaz Gerges, London School of Economics

The hajj stampede has fed into a regional rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran, with a war of words between the two foes revealing much more about the story.

On September 24, throngs of pilgrims met at an intersection in Mina, a desert plain and temporary encampment during the Hajj. What happened next is unclear, but the disaster has since been reported through the lenses of Saudi and Iranian media in particular.

Hundreds of people are known to have lost their lives, but both nations have cited various death tolls.

Journalists said that they were denied access to the scene for seven hours, and although the Kingdom offered an official death toll of 769, some speculate that that was an exercise of damage control - and that the real figure is much higher.

The larger story is the geopolitics of the region. The news reports coming out of Saudi Arabia and Iran on the Hajj crush moved swiftly from sympathy to recrimination and started to look like a proxy war of words.

Discussing the story are Basma al-Atassi, a journalist at Al Jazeera English; Negar Mortazavi, an Iranian journalist and media analyst; Fawaz Gerges, an author and academic; and Sarah Wahab, senior editor, Arab News.

Source: Al Jazeera