Shiites mix Ashura rituals with politics in Iraq

Shiite Muslims marching during Ashura rituals in the Iraqi shrine city of Karbala on Saturday mixed mourning the death of Imam Hussein over 1,300 years ago with chants condemning modern politicians.

Hundreds of black-clad Shiites walked toward the mausoleum of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed who was killed in 680 AD by the armies of the caliph Yazid, ritually beating their chests as a sign of mourning for the slain imam.

But they also chanted about the current politics of Iraq, an unusual occurrence in commemorations that mainly focus on the past.

In one chant, the marchers lamented that Iraq’s prime minister, parliament speaker and president are all “chasing after positions, and the people’s share is only troubles,” concluding: “O Hussein, we are with you until death, until death with you.”

In another, they said that “the effect of financial corruption is the same as terrorism,” and that “our leaders are corrupt from the top.”

“You took everything, and you want to take my vote; I won’t let you, even on my death,” they shouted.

Iraq has vast oil wealth, but basic services such as clean water and consistent electricity are still lacking, and corruption is rampant.


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