photos:-millions-of-shia-pilgrims-mass-in-iraqi-city-for-arbaeen

Shia Muslim devotees gather in Iraq's central holy shrine city of Karbala.

Shia Muslim devotees gather in Iraqi holy city of Karbala to commemorate the Arbaeen marking 40 days since Ashura. [Mohammed Sawaf/AFP]

Published On 17 Sep 2022

About 21 million Shia pilgrims from around the world gathered in the Iraqi city of Karbala on Saturday for the Arbaeen commemoration, which marks the end of the 40-day mourning period for the seventh-century killing of Imam Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad.

The annual event sees men and women from across Iraq and beyond travel to Karbala, where Imam Hussein and his brother Abbas are buried, for one of the world’s largest religious gatherings.

After two years marked by the COVID-19 pandemic and border restrictions, 21.2 million pilgrims flocked to the city in central Iraq this week, said the organisation that manages Abbas’s mausoleum.

Among them are five million foreigners, including a record of more than three million from neighbouring Iran, according to authorities in the two countries.

The pilgrims waved black flags and banners bearing the image of Hussein.

This year, the commemorations are being held against the backdrop of a political crisis in Iraq.

Clashes between the two main Shia factions – the pro-Iran Coordination Framework and a bloc loyal to influential leader Muqtada al-Sadr – have prevented the establishment of a coalition government.

The crisis escalated into violence in late August, when al-Sadr supporters clashed with the army and forces from the Hashd al-Shaabi, former paramilitaries integrated into the regular military.

More than 30 al-Sadr followers were killed.

Shia Muslim pilgrims take part the ritual of Arbaeen in the holy city of Kerbala.

Shia Muslim pilgrims take part in the ritual of Arbaeen in the holy city of Karbala on Saturday. [Thaier al-Sudani/Reuters]

An Iranian woman carries a picture of the late Iran's Quds Force top commander Qassem Soleimani as they walk to commemorate Arbaeen in Tehran.

An Iranian woman carries a picture of Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s Quds Force’s late top commander, as they walk to commemorate Arbaeen in Tehran on Saturday. [Majid Asgaripour/WANA via Reuters]

Shia Muslim pilgrims take part in Arbaeen in the holy city of Kerbala.

After two years marked by the COVID pandemic and border restrictions, 21.2 million pilgrims flocked to the city in central Iraq this week, said the organisation that manages Abbas’s mausoleum. [Thaier al-Sudani/Reuters]

Iranians walk as they commemorate Arbaeen in Tehran.

Iranians walk as they commemorate Arbaeen in Tehran. [Majid Asgaripour/WANA via Reuters]

Shia Muslim pilgrims gather ahead of the Arbaeen in the holy city of Kerbala.

Some Shia pilgrims weep as they mark Arbaeen in the holy city of Karbala. Among them are five million foreigners, including a record of more than three million from neighbouring Iran, according to authorities in the two countries. [Abdullah Dhiaa al-Deen/Reuters]

Shia pilgrims pray at the Imam al-Abbas shrine ahead of Arbaeen in the holy city of Kerbala.

Pilgrims pray at the Imam al-Abbas shrine in Karbala on Friday. On the esplanade linking the mausoleums of Hussein and Abbas, worshippers recited prayers on Saturday. [Abdullah Dhiaa al-Deen/Reuters]

Shia Muslim pilgrims take part in a mourning ceremony during Arbaeen in Iraq.

Groups of men beat their chests to the rhythm of religious chants and the din of loudspeakers, some of them slowly making their way around the two mausoleums of Hussein and Abbas. [Thaier al-Sudani/Reuters]

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei mourns during a ceremony on the occasion of Arbaeen in Tehran.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei mourns during a ceremony on the occasion of Arbaeen in Tehran. [Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader/WANA/Handout via Reuters]

 

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