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Ashura Festival in Athens Climaxes with Bloody Self-Flagellation

Hundreds of Shia Muslims gathered over the weekend in Piraeus, south of Athens, to celebrate the climax of the religious festival of Ashura.
Believers in Greece slashed themselves and lashed their backs as part of a rite that takes place every year.
The day of Ashura is marked by Muslims as a whole, but for Shia Muslims it is a major religious commemoration of the martyrdom at Karbala of Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad.

It falls on the 10th of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic lunar calendar.
It is marked with mourning rituals and passion plays re-enacting the martyrdom.

Shia men and women dressed in black also parade through the streets slapping their chests and chanting.
Some Shia men seek to emulate the suffering of Hussein by flagellating themselves with chains or cutting their foreheads until blood streams from their bodies.
Some Shia leaders and groups discourage the bloodletting, saying it creates a backward and negative image of Shia Muslims. Such leaders encourage people to donate blood.
Photos by Nikos Libertas – Aris Oikonomou / SOOC

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