KARBALA (Dispatches) — Millions of Shia and Sunni Muslims as well as other lovers of Imam Hussein (AS) marked Ashura on Tuesday, one of the most sacred religious holy days, holding rallies and prayers across the Middle East and elsewhere.
In southern Beirut, thousands of people, carrying yellow flags of the Lebanese Hezbollah group, rallied in the movement’s stronghold where two Israeli drones crashed late last month.
The somber day of Ashura commemorates the martyrdom of Prophet Muhammad’s grandson Imam Hussein (Peace be upon both) by the tyrant of the time caliph Yazid in Karbala in present day Iraq, in 680 A.D.
In Iraq, millions held Ashura processions amid beefed-up security in Karbala and the capital, Baghdad, marching through the streets. Many of the faithful beat their chests in a sign of mourning.
In recent years, Ashura processions have been attacked by Takfiri terrorists.
On Sunday night, thousands marched toward the holy shrine of Imam Hussein (AS) in Karbala, which had been lit up on the eve of Ashura.
Ashura, derived from the word for "10" in Arabic, is observed on the 10th day of the first Islamic month Muharram with traditional rituals.
A walkway collapsed and set off a stampede in Karbala on Tuesday, leaving at least 31 people dead and about 100 injured, officials said.
The incident happened toward the end of the Ashura procession, causing a panicked rush among worshippers near the gold-domed Imam Hussein shrine, according to two officials who spoke to The Associated Press from Karbala.
The commemorations were peaceful until the walkway collapsed, triggering the chaos.
The incident took place during the so-called "Tweireej" run, when tens of thousands of people run toward the shrine of Imam Hussein (AS) in Karbala around noon.
The 2-3 kilometer (1-2 mile) run symbolizes when people from the Banu Asad tribe from the village of Tweireej ran to help Imam Hussein (AS), only to find out that he had been martyred.
In Iran, several millions of mostly black-clad mourners took part in ceremonies across the nation. People stopped businesses and economic activities and marched on the streets to mark a day that symbolizes the eternal and unwavering stance against falsehood, the cause Imam Hussein (AS) was martyred for.
Mourners traditionally cook and distribute food and drinks among people. Many donate blood in Ashura procession to help others in need.
Similar processions were held in Pakistan where mourners showed solidarity with the people of Kashmir and Palestine.