Shiite Faithful Mark Holy Day Despite Violence

Shia Men March on Ashoura

Iraqi Shia men bleed after making a cut on their heads with swords on the last day of the religious ceremony of Ashoura, in the holy city of Karbala. Reuters hide caption

itoggle caption Reuters

History and Faith

Imam Hussein, the grandson of the prophet Mohammed, was killed in Karbala in a 7th-century battle for leadership of the Islamic world. The battle prompted the divide between Shiite and Sunni Muslims. To mark Hussein's martyrdom, Shiites perform rituals — banned under Saddam — that include beating themselves with chains and slashing their foreheads.

For a second day, insurgents in Iraq target Shia Muslims as they observed the holy day of Ashoura. At least 30 people were killed. Despite the violence, tens of thousands of Iraqis took part in religious processions to commemorate the death of Hussein, grandson of the prophet Mohammed.

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