Iraq: Influx of Iranians bolsters Arbaeen pilgrimage

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Al-Araby

Twenty million pilgrims, swelled by a record influx of Iranians, have converged on the Iraqi shrine city of Karbala to mark Arbaeen, an annual Shia festival that climaxes on Saturday. It is one of the world’s biggest religious gatherings, keenly observed in Iraq and neighbouring Iran, both Shia majority countries. The event marks the end of a 40-day mourning period for the killing of Imam Hussein – a founding figure in Shia Islam and grandson of the Prophet Muhammad – by the forces of the caliph Yazid in 680 AD. So far, there has been little sign of the intra-Shia political tensions that have …

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