- Title: IRAQ: SHI'ITES PREPARE FOR CLIMAX OF ASHURA FESTIVAL.
- Date: 19th February 2005
- Summary: (BN12) KERBALA, IRAQ (FEBRUARY 18, 2005) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) 1. MV/MCU: MEN SHARPENING KNIVES TO BE USED IN SATURDAY'S ASHURA RITUALS; MEN WAVING KNIVES AND CHANTING "We will not forget our Imam Hussein" (4 SHOTS) 0.23 2. MV/GV: IRAQI POLICE SEARCHING BAGS; PEOPLE WALKING TOWARDS SHRINE; BACK VIEW OF PEOPLE BEING SEARCHED AT CHECKPOINT (3 SHOTS) 0.43 3. GV/GV/PAN: FAMILIES WALKING TOWARDS SHRINE (2 SHOTS) 0.55 4. GV/MV/CU: ARRESTED SUSPECTS HELD IN POLICE CUSTODY; WEAPONS AND AMMUNITION LAID OUT ON TABLE; HANDCUFFED SUSPECTS LED OUT OF ROOM (5 SHOTS) 1.20 5. TV: TOP VIEWS OF CROWDS GATHERED OUTSIDE HUSSEIN SHRINE; CROWDS WITH FLAGS, CHANTING IN ASHURA RITUALS (5 SHOTS) 2.09 6. LV: SHRINE 2.16 7. LV/TV: MEN FLOGGING THEMSELVES (3 SHOTS) 2.35 8. TV: CROWD CHANTING AND RUNNING 2.42 9. GV: CROWDS OUTSIDE HUSSEIN SHRINE AT DUSK 2.48 10. CU/GV: GOLDEN DOMES OF SHRINE; GOOD SHOTS HUSSEIN MOSQUE AT DUSK (3 SHOTS) 3.09 Initials Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
- Embargoed: 6th March 2005 12:00
- Location: KERBALA, IRAQ
- Country: Iraq
- Reuters ID: LVA9C982REZ1Z4XIVLB0GEFH24HT
- Story Text: Tens of thousands of Shi'ites converge in the holy
city of Kerbala for the climax of their holiest religious
Final preparations were underway in Kerbala on
Friday (February 18) for the climax of Ashura, one of the
holiest dates on the Shi'ite religious calendar.
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
Hundreds of thousands of Shi'ites from across Iraq and
abroad are expected to converge in the city, 110 km (70
miles) for the climax of the religious pilgrimage that was
banned for a quarter of a century under Saddam Hussein's
Sunni Muslim-dominated regime.
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.
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.
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 Kerbala, 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
imself 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.
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