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

For whom the clock ticks
Updated 22 Apr 2021

For whom the clock ticks

Tarin will have to succeed in order to cement his position within the cabinet.
Ending the ‘forever war’
Updated 21 Apr 2021

Ending the ‘forever war’

Regardless of who the adversary was at any point, two generations of Afghans have known only war.

Editorial

22 Apr 2021

Capping power debt

THE suggested revision in the Circular Debt Management Plan, which aims to cap the flow or addition of new debt to...
22 Apr 2021

Istanbul postponement

WHILE the postponement of the Istanbul peace talks on Afghanistan, which were scheduled to be held later this week,...
22 Apr 2021

No mining precautions

YET another accident caused by a methane gas explosion has been reported from the dangerous coal mines of...
More mishandling
Updated 21 Apr 2021

More mishandling

By its bad decision-making and weak management, the govt has allowed the TLP to garner more importance and heft than it deserves.
21 Apr 2021

Declining FDI

THE sharp decline in FDI in recent months is worrisome. New State Bank data shows that FDI has plummeted by a hefty...
21 Apr 2021

The digital divide

IN the Economist Intelligence Unit’s annual Inclusive Internet Index report, measuring internet inclusion in terms...