Bahraini, Saudi and Kuwaiti Shiites mark Ashura

bahrini_saudi_shiaThousands of Shiite Muslims in Bahrain and eastern Saudi Arabia marked Ashura on Thursday, commemorating the death of a grandson of the Prophet Mohammed with processions and cries of mourning.

In Manama, processions took place in the narrow streets of  the old city, which is dotted with Shiite places of worship. Bahrain is ruled by a Sunni dynasty but the majority of its population is Shiite.

A number of Shiites from nearby Saudi Arabia, where they make up 10 percent of the population, and Kuwait, where they are about a third of the population, came to Bahrain to participate in the processions.

The colour black dominated the occasion, which marks the martyrdom of Hussein (A.S), a grandson of the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) and the third Shiite imam, in 680 AD by the forces of the Omayyad Caliph Yazid (L.A) in a battle in Karbala, Iraq.

Men covered their heads in dust, crying “Hussein, Hussein,” expressing regret that the faithful did not rescue the imam when he was besieged in the Iraqi desert.

Women, who usually do not participate in Ashura processions, did so in Bahrain this year.

The processions in Bahrain were supervised by volunteers and security services, and no incidents were reported.

Saudi Shiites complain of marginalisation and segregation in the Gulf kingdom dominated by Wahhabism, a strictly puritanical form of Sunni Islam.

In Kuwait, members of the Shiite community marked Ashura inside their places of worship, as street processions are banned.

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