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Muharram procession in Baghdad
Pictures I took on Feb. 28th in Baghdad of a procession for Muharram from the local mosque.
Early in Islam there was a split and the followers of Mohammads grandson Husein became the Shiites while the mainstream were called Sunnis. Husein and his forces were massacred in Karbala, Iraq in the 700's. To commemorate this Shiites march through the streets with the men whipping themselves rythmically and the women crying to feel the pain of his death. Saddam was a Sunni and banned the processions so now in the "free" Iraq there are processions in almost all cities with Shiites. The main mourning period is for 10 days and culminated (March 2) with huge marches where people cut themselves with swords etc. Two million were in Karbala and huge marches were held elsewhere. Suicide attacks by Sunni extemists in Karbala and Baghdad killed 300.
roof and minaret of my local mosque
Crowds gather on the roof before the march.
march gathers behind the banner
marcher carries picture of Sadr, Shiite leader killed by Saddam
marh monitors all carried arms as violence against them was widely expected
girls and women participate from the sidelines
woman hits herself
women join parade and mourning