In their millions, Muslims have staged passionate mourning ceremonies in commemoration of the day in history that witnessed the martyrdom of the icon of sacrifice to the faithful.
The occasion, known as Ashura, marks the martyrdom of Imam Hussein and 72 of his companions in 680 AD in a land that is known today as Iraq, after they refused to pledge allegiance to the tyrant Yazid.
Ashura is the culmination of a 10-day annual mourning period in the lunar month of Muharram for the third Imam of Shia Muslims, who was a grandson of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him).
The rituals are observed in ultimate magnificence in the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala in Iraq, the latter of which hosts Imam Hussein’s holy shrine.
On Sunday, hundreds of thousands of pilgrims, traveling from India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Azerbaijan, Lebanon and many other countries, descended on Karbala, with officials putting their numbers at 3 million.
An Iraqi TV channel said authorities had created a security belt around the holy city to protect it from possible terrorist attacks. In the past, Daesh and other Takfiri groups have targeted the pilgrims on their way to Karbala or carried out bombings inside the city.