Millions attend Arbaeen commemoration in Karbala

Published November 11, 2017
Pilgrims gather in front of Imam Hussein’s shrine for Arbaeen which marks the 40th day after Ashura.—AFP
Pilgrims gather in front of Imam Hussein’s shrine for Arbaeen which marks the 40th day after Ashura.—AFP

KARBALA: An estimated 14 million pilgrims thronged Karbala on Friday to mark the annual Arbaeen commemoration, as Baghdad looks to wipe out the militant Islamic State group that has targeted their branch of Islam.

Under tight security, around 14 million worshippers crowded into the golden-domed mausoleum, beating their chests in unison against a background of religious music.Tens of thousands of security personnel and Shia militiamen were deployed, as in past years, around the perimetres of the sanctuary as well as on all roads leading to Karbala, about 80 kilometres southwest of Baghdad.

The expulsion of IS from Iraqi cities has added an extra dimension to this year’s pilgrimage, as the Sunni extremist group has repeatedly targeted Shias. Last year, a suicide bombing killed at least 70 mainly Iranian worshippers returning from the commemoration.

The jihadists have seen their self-styled “caliphate” disintegrate on the battlefield, and are currently fighting to hold a last pocket of territory in Iraq on the Syrian border.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said the security operation to protect the millions of pilgrims was a “success” and “another victory” for Iraqi forces who have routed IS from most of the country.

Believers from across the Middle East and beyond made the pilgrimage to Karbala. Shias make up some 60 per cent of Iraq’s population.

Ahead of the peak of the commemorations local governor Aqil Tourihi said that over 10 million Iraqis had arrived.

More than two million Iranian pilgrims also crossed the border into Iraq for Arbaeen, an Iranian official said.

The overall attendance of around 14 million appeared down on the roughly 17 to 20 million people estimated to have attended Arbaeen in 2016.

“There are pilgrims coming from Arab countries, from Turkey, from the US, the Gulf, from everywhere in the world, and this is the proof that Muslims all over the world are united,” said Shia al-Mussawi, a pilgrim visiting from Iraq’s Misan province.

Published in Dawn, November 11th, 2017

Opinion

De-programming the robot
25 Jul 2021

De-programming the robot

The robot that is programmed to be a predator, to dominate, to hurt, to rape, to kill, will do as he pleases, where he pleases...
A toxic discourse
Updated 25 Jul 2021

A toxic discourse

Politics as it exists now is a catalyst for further divisions...
Cyberespionage
25 Jul 2021

Cyberespionage

Sellers of surveillance tools must be held accountable...
Managing human agency
24 Jul 2021

Managing human agency

Is the private sector able to manage the ‘human agency’ of teachers better than the public sector?...

Editorial

Noor murder case
Updated 25 Jul 2021

Noor murder case

IT would not be an exaggeration to describe Pakistan as no country for women. This truth was underscored yet again...
25 Jul 2021

Rental inflation

HOUSE rent prices soared in June by 6.21pc from 4.2pc a year ago, topping the list of 10 contributors to the urban...
Cyberattack on rights
Updated 24 Jul 2021

Cyberattack on rights

A COLLABORATIVE investigation into a data leak of software sold by the Israeli surveillance company NSO Group has ...
24 Jul 2021

Sleeper cells

THERE was a time not too long ago when militant groups had unleashed a reign of terror in Pakistan, resulting in...
24 Jul 2021

Prisoners’ return

THE families of 62 Pakistani prisoners who had been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia had reason to rejoice this Eid as...