Shia pilgrims flock to Karbala for Arbaeen climax

Shia pilgrims flock to Karbala for Arbaeen climax

Huge numbers of Shia Muslim pilgrims gathered in the Iraqi city of Karbala at the climax of a key festival, despite threats of violence.

Iraq says up to 17 million made the pilgrimage over 40 days this year, more than a million from Iran, and many remained for the ceremony of Arbaeen.

Tight security aimed to prevent attacks by Islamic State (IS) and other Sunni militant groups.

Arbaeen commemorates the death of a grandson of the Prophet Mohammed.

The ceremony is held to mark the death of Imam Hussain, who died in battle at Karbala.

Imam Hussain was killed in a 7th Century battle for the leadership of Islam
 Pilgrims carried a huge Iraqi flag through the streets

He was killed in a 7th Century battle for the leadership of the Muslim world, a defining event that helped seal the schism between Sunni and Shia Muslims.

There have been no reports of major incidents at this year’s Arbaeen.

The governor of Kerbala Akeel al-Turaihi praised the peaceful conclusion of the pilgrimage.

“We think that the successes of this visitation (pilgrimage) is one of the chapters of victories achieved by our armed forces and volunteers against IS” he said.

IS regards Shia Muslims as heretics and regularly targets them in attacks throughout Iraq.

On Friday, a mortar targeting a Shia mosque north of Baghdad killed eight people.

Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-30462820

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