- Title: IRAQ: SHI'ITES IN KERBALA AND BAGHDAD BEGIN RITUALS FOR CLIMAX OF ASHURA
- Date: 19th February 2005
- Summary: (BN04) KERBALA, IRAQ (FEBRUARY 19, 2005) (REUTERS) (NIGHT SHOTS) 1. VARIOUS WIDE TOP VIEWS ILLUMINATED SHRINE, DOMES OF AL-HUSSEIN MOSQUE (3 SHOTS) 0.16 2. VARIOUS OF PILGRIMS SITTING AND SLEEPING ON GROUND BETWEEN AL-HUSSEIN AND AL-ABBAS MOSQUES (2 SHOTS) 0.28 3. PEOPLE PRAYING IN FRONT OF AL-HUSSEIN MOSQUE 0.34 4. GROUP OF WOMEN 0.39 5. MEN MARCHING CARRYING FLAGS AND PORTRAIT OF HUSSEIN/ AL-HUSSEIN MOSQUE IN BACKGROUND 0.44 6. VARIOUS OF MEN BANGING DRUMS ON WAY TO AL-HUSSEIN/ MEN WITH KNIVES 0.55 7. MEN BANGING DRUMS AND CLASHING CYMBALS IN RITUAL 1.00 8. VARIOUS OF MEN ENTERING AL-HUSSEIN MOSQUE WAVING KNIFES (2 SHOTS) 1.11 9. VARIOUS OF MEN MARCHING FROM AL-HUSSEIN TO AL-ABBAS MOSQUE, MANY WITH BLOODIED CLOTHES AND HEADBANDS TO SYMBOLISE SUFFERING OF HUSSEIN (3 SHOTS) 1.37 10. TOP VIEW MARCHING OUT OF AL-ABBAS MOSQUE 1.46 11. GV: MOSQUES 1.51 12. VARIOUS OF SUN COMING UP OVER KERBALA (3 SHOTS) 2.14 (BN06) BAGHDAD, IRAQ (FEBRUARY 19, 2005) (REUTERS) 13. WIDE OF BLAST SITE WITH BLACKENED BUILDING AND BLACKENED CAR 2.20 14. NATIONAL GUARDSMEN ON SCENE/ CAR PARKED IN FRONT OF DOOR OF HOUSE WHERE SUICIDE BOMBER BLEW HIMSELF UP 2.32 (BN06) BAGHDAD, IRAQ (FEBRUARY 19, 2005) (REUTERS - NO ACCESS INTERNET) 15. CLOSE-UP OF REMAINS OF FLESH OF THE SUICIDE BOMBER'S ON WINDSCREEN OF CAR 2.38 (BN06) BAGHDAD, IRAQ (FEBRUARY 19, 2005) (REUTERS) 16. NATIONAL GUARDS AT SITE NEAR BLACKENED CAR AND BUILDINGS (2 SHOTS) 2.51 17. SOUNDBITE (Arabic) LIEUTENANT KHALID, SAYING: "At six o'clock yesterday (Friday February 18) evening we were attacked by a suicide bomber. The man was searched by our men at the checkpoint and we discovered that he wore explosive-packed vest. He shot him on his left leg as he tried to escape when a guardsman tried to keep him away. He tried to escape again and enter one of the houses but we gave an order for guards to fire and he exploded there" 3.20 18. NATIONAL GUARDS NEAR BLACKENED CAR 3.26 19. WIDE OF SCENE OF BLAST/ PAN TO AREA 3.34 20. VARIOUS OF PEOPLE WEARING WHITE SMOCKS AND GASHING THEIR HEADS WITH SWORDS PARADING IN FRONT OF AL-KADHIM SHRINE IN BAGHDAD (4 SHOTS) 4.00 21. WOMEN CLAD IN BLACK BEATING THEIR CHESTS 4.05 22. MORE OF MEN PARADING TOWARDS HOLY SHRINE OF KADHIM 4.15 Initials Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
- Embargoed: 6th March 2005 12:00
- Location: KERBALA AND BAGHDAD, IRAQ
- Country: Iraq
- Reuters ID: LVA4SHQMNYY696ZHWIFI8FCQTGSA
- Story Text: Shi'ites in Kerbala and Iraq begin rituals for the
climax of Ashura, their holiest religious festival.
Tens of thousands of Shi'ites gathered around the
Imam al-Hussein shrine in the holy city of Kerbala on
Saturday (February 19), beginning ceremonies for the climax
Ashura is the culmination of 10 days of mourning,
beginning at the start of the Islamic month of Muharram,
for the 7th century death of Imam Hussein bin Ali, the
grandson of the Prophet Mohammed, who died at the
hands of the Umayyads.
Shi'ites from across Iraq and abroad have been arriving
in the city over the past few days and hundreds of
thousands are expected in the city, 110 km (70 miles) south
of Baghdad, for the religious pilgrimage that was banned
for a quarter of a century under Saddam Hussein's Sunni
During Ashura, Shi'ites traditionally flail themselves
with metal chains to commemorate the suffering of Hussein.
At the climax of the festival, which falls on February 19
this year, some slice their heads open with long knives in
a tradition that emulates the suffering of Hussein at his
death in 680 A.D.
This year's climax comes two days after a Shi'ite
alliance was confirmed as the victor in Iraq's historic
election last month, handing the majority sect power after
decades of oppression.
Security has been stepped up following last year's
suicide bombings in Kerbala and Baghdad that killed 170
people. Dozens of suspected terrorists have been arrested
and are being held in police custody.
According to legend, Mohammed's grandson, Hussein, led
a small band of Muslims to Kerbala to raise an army against
the Sunni leader in Damascus, Yazid - marking the beginning
of the ongoing war between Sunnis and Shi'ites. Hussein
believed Yazid and his people had stripped the prophet's
descendants of their rightful place as Islam's spiritual
and secular leaders, and so the group rose against the
On the hot desert plain of Karbala, Yazid's massive
army cut off the group, laying siege on them for 10 days.
In the end, the army killed 72 of Hussein's companions and
the leader himself was beheaded on the final day, now
commemorated as the climax of Ashura. The story goes that
Hussein's decapitated head was delivered to Yazid and
paraded on a spear through Damascus.
Shi'ites in Baghdad gathered to mark Ashura in the
Kadhimiya neighbourhood on Saturday.
The night before (February 18), a suicide bomber killed
two policemen and a member of the Iraq National Guard at a
checkpoint in the area. The attack was the fifth in a
single day on mainly Shi'ite targets.
Baghdad police said on Saturday a man wearing an
explosives-packed vest approached a group of police and
National Guards manning a checkpoint in Baghdad's Shi'ites'
neighbourhood of Kadhimiya and blew himself up.
Police officer Lieutenant Khalid, in charge of the
checkpoint said the suicide bomber was spotted by the
guardsmen, who shot him in the leg when he tried to escape.
"At six o'clock yesterday (Friday, February 18) evening
we were attacked by a suicide bomber. The man was searched
by our men at the checkpoint and we discovered that he wore
explosive-packed vest. He shot him on his left leg as he
tried to escape when a guardsman tried to keep him away. He
tried to escape again and enter one of the houses but we
gave an order for guards to fire and he exploded there,"
said Lieutenant Khalid at the scene on Saturday (February
He said one of the guards was slightly wounded in the
On Saturday, thousands of Shi'ites marched through
Baghdad for Ashura. In startling scenes of religious
fervour, thousands gashed the tops of their heads with
swords as they honoured the martyrdom of Hussein.
The rituals started early in the morning in the main
square in front of Imam al-Kadhim shrine, with participants
walking around the square chanting devotional prayers and
hitting themselves to the shout of "Haidar, Haidar," the
battle name of Imam Ali, Imam al-Hussein's father.
Wearing white smocks over black shirts and trousers,
and sometimes with a white banner around their heads, they
were quickly splattered and sometimes completely drenched
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