For the past 1,300 years, Shia Muslims all over the world have engaged in mass self-flagellation to mark the death of Prophet Mohammed’s grandson, Imam Hussein.
Thousands of men and children took to the streets of Iraq, Afghanistan, India, Lebanon and other countries all over the world on Saturday, cutting themselves with swords, knives and sharp chains.
Day of Ashura as the ceremony is called is aimed at emulating the suffering of Hussein, who lost his life fighting the Umayyad Caliphate in 680 AD in Karbala, near Baghdad in Iraq.
Hussein’s body was mutilated by his killers. Many believe that his death was the turning point that led to the split of Islam into Shia and Sunni sects.
The ceremony has been heavily criticised by clerics who encourage people to donate their blood to hospitals instead.
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