Around the world, the Islamic Ashura festival has reached its climax.Across Iraq, millions of Shi’ite Muslims gathered at shrines and mosques.
As a Sunni, Saddam Hussein strictly limited the festival’s pilgrimage, but since his overthrow, Ashura has become an opportunity for Iraq’s Shi’ite majority to show its strength and it is a prime target of Sunni Islamist insurgents.
In Pakistan, a suspected suicide bomb disrupted an Ashura procession. At least two people were killed. The blast was outside a Shi’ite Muslim prayer hall in Muzzaffarabad, in Pakistan administered Kashmir.
In Lebanon, tens of thousands of people marched though the streets of Beirut waving flags and banners. Many wore black as a sign of mourning.
Ashura commemorates the death of Islam’s prophet Mohammad’s grandson.
In Afghanistan, some Muslim Shi’ites marked the last day of Ashura with self-flagellation to re-enact Imam Hussein’s painful death in 680 AD.
The Ashura holiday is the most important annual festival that distinguishes Shi’ite Muslims from Sunnis.