Some 21 million Shia pilgrims from around the world gathered in the Iraqi city of Karbala on Saturday to commemorate Arbaeen, marking the end of a 40-day period of mourning for the death of Imam Hussein , grandson of the Prophet Muhammad in the seventh century.
The annual event sees men and women from across Iraq and beyond travel to Karbala, where Imam Hussein and his brother Abbas are buried, to attend one of the world’s largest religious gatherings. gender.
After two years marked by the COVID-19 pandemic and border restrictions, 21.2 million pilgrims poured into the city in central Iraq this week, the organization that manages Abbas’s mausoleum said.
Among them are 5 million foreigners, including a record more than 3 million from neighboring Iran, according to the two countries’ authorities.
Pilgrims waved black flags and banners bearing the image of Hussein.
This year, the celebration was held against the backdrop of the 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 formation of a coalition government.
The crisis escalated into violence in late August, when al-Sadr’s supporters clashed with the army and forces from Hashd al-Shaabi, armies that were formerly integrated into the regular army.
More than 30 followers of al-Sadr were killed.