Shiites mark Ashura Holy day
Lebanese Shiite Muslims take part in a self-flagellation procession during the Ashura commemorations.
Millions of Shiites in Iraq marked the Holy day of Ashura on Thursday by gathering at shrines and mosques to commemorate the death of Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Mohammed.
Many headed to the city of Karbala in central Iraq to visit Hussein’s shrine.
People marched through the city, whipping their backs and chests with chains and sobbing as blood covered their bodies and faces.
Others tapped their chests in a steady rhythm.
Iraqi authorities have deployed more than 30,000 secure personnel in the city to secure the annual festival.
The event comes as the Islamic State extremist group staged scattered attacks across the country this year after losing their strongholds to Iraqi security in 2017.
The radical Sunni group regards Shiites as apostates.
Ashura falls on the 10th of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic lunar calendar.
It is marked by Muslims to commemorate the day Moses was saved from the Egyptians.
However, for Shiite Muslims, the day has special significance marking Hussein’s death at the Battle of Karbala in Iraq in 680 AD.
The festival was banned in Iraq for years under the administration of the President Saddam Hussein. (Dpa/NAN)