Shi’ite Muslims Mark Ashura in Afghanistan

Posted November 24th, 2012 at 11:30 am (UTC-5)
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Shi'ites gathered Saturday in the Afghan capital, Kabul, to mark Ashura — the holiest day on the Shi'ite Muslim calendar.

Crowds of men whipped their backs to commemorate the seventh-century death of Imam Hussein, the Prophet Muhammad's grandson.

One of the Ashura mourners said Imam Hussein is being honored for sacrificing his life for all Muslims, not only for Shi'ites.

The mourners congregated in front of the Abul Fazel shrine, where last year a suicide attack among a crowd of mourners killed 55 people. It was the country's worst sectarian attack since the fall of the Taliban.

The commemoration events were held amid tight security, with thousands of Afghan forces lining the streets.

Also Saturday, Shi'ite Muslims marked Ashura in the Iraqi holy city of Karbala, where hundreds of black-clad Shi'ites gathered near the shrine of Imam Hussein.

Ashura is celebrated by Shi'ite Muslims around the world. It falls on the 10th day of the Muslim holy month of Muharram. The date of Ashura may vary from country to country.

Shi'ites form a majority in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and Bahrain but are a minority among Muslims worldwide. Shi'ites participating in Ashura rituals are often targeted by Sunni Muslim extremists.