Hundreds of members of Windsor’s Shi’ite Muslim community marched Sunday in the name of freedom and justice to mark the martyrdom of their founding religious leader, Imam Hussain, 1,400 years ago.
The procession, which began at the An-Noor Islamic School at 1480 Janette Ave. with participants symbolically beating their chests in time to a drum, wound through downtown neighbourhoods. Picking up marchers along the way, it ended at city hall, where speeches and prayers were said in the name of Imam Hussain.
Abdul Bazzi, vice-president of Windsor’s Hussain Foundation, explained that Imam Hussain was the grandson of the prophet Muhammad. He and 17 members of his family and 72 supporters, were beheaded by the dictator Yazid in Karbala. On the 40th day after his martyrdom, his son, Imam Zaynul Abideen and surviving family members returned from captivity to visit his grave.
Ever since, Mr. Bazzi explained, the holy day of Ashoouraa and the 40th day of Ashouraa have been remembered all over the world by Shi’ites. He said the Sunday march was the fourth consecutive year that local Shi’ite Muslims have marked the Ashouraa with a procession.
“He is our symbol of justice and this is the commemoration of his death,” said Mr. Bazzi. “This has nothing to do with the politics of today. It is purely religious. Shia Muslims do this all over the word, from Lebanon to Toronto and Montreal. Everywhere.”
Participant Hassan Soboh added that Hussain is a martyr of primary importance to Shi’ites, but his message of justice and freedom in the face of violent oppression is an inspiration to all, regardless of faith.
“It’s not only religion but also about justice,” he said. “He had a message, not only for Muslims, but of peace and freedom for all mankind.”
Mr Bazzi said there are now about 10,000 Shi’ite Muslims living in the Windsor and Essex County area.
…this post forwarded by Windsor Humanist, Alexander Neil, after a February 25, 2008 article by Don LaJoie in The Windsor Star
At least 40 killed, 60 wounded at refreshment tent south of Baghdad
A suicide bomber blew himself up among Shi’ite pilgrims taking a break in a refreshment tent yesterday during their days-long march to a shrine for a major religious gathering. The blast killed at least 40 people and wounded 60, making it one of the deadliest this year.
It was the second attack of the day against pilgrims travelling to the holy city of Karbala, 80 kilometres south of Baghdad.
Hours earlier, extremists attacked another group with guns and grenades in the predominantly Sunni Baghdad neighbourhood of Dora, killing three and wounding 36, police said.
The area is located within the Triangle of Death. Analysts generally attribute this area’s high level of violence to the tension from the mixed Sunni Muslim and Shia’ah Muslim population.
The suicide bomber detonated a vest packed with metal ball bearings on a two-lane highway near a residential area through which more than 40,000 pilgrims had passed earlier in the day, the U.S. military said in a statement.
Most of the casualties were hit by the ball bearings, said a doctor at a hospital in the city of Hilla, where many of the wounded were taken. A wounded woman there said the attack happened in a tent where pilgrims were offered refreshments.
“When we reached the area people invited us into a tent to take some rest and have some food. When we entered, there was a huge ball of fire and we saw people lying on the ground,” said Um A’amr, who was being treated for multiple wounds. Tens of thousands of Iraqi soldiers and police have been deployed for the Arbain festival after suspected Sunni Arab insurgents killed 149 pilgrims on their way to Karbala for the event last year, one of the worst spasms of violence since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Millions of Shiite pilgrims are expected in Karbala for Arbain this week, which commemorates the end of the 40-day mourning period following Ashoura, a religious ritual that marks the death of Prophet Mohammad’s grandson in 680.
Karbala Police Chief Raid Shakir Jawdat has said 40,000 police officers and military troops were being deployed to prevent attacks. At least 4 million pilgrims were already in the city, he said.
Mohammad Mohsin Abbas, 35, said he was walking from Baghdad’s main Shi’ite district of Sadr City and decided not to stop at the tent. He had just passed it when the blast occurred shortly before 3 p.m.
“Instantly I found myself knocked on the ground, unable to turn my head around to see what had happened,” he said from his hospital bed after undergoing surgery in Hilla to remove shrapnel. “While they were transporting me to hospital, I saw that the tent had disappeared from the scene.”
…this post forwarded by Windsor Humanist, Alexander Neil, after a February 25, 2008 article by Kim Gamel over The Associated Press