Images of semi-naked Shiite Muslim men, with blood streaking from their backs as they flagellate their bare flesh are becoming a norm in Europe. Greece could be no exception, as the Shiite Muslims gathered in Piraeus to celebrate the climax of the religious festival of Ashura. The event started on September 20 and ends in the evening of September 21.
The day of Ashura marks the major religious commemoration of the martyrdom at Karbala of Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad.
They descended on Dimitriou street in the center of Piraeus to celebrate the religious event, which culminated in the all-male procession self-lacerating themselves.
Ashura is translated as “Muhammad’s Lament” and is the anniversary of the death of Hussein Ibn Ali, grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, at the hands of the Caliph Yazid, in the Battle of Karbala in 680 AD. Ashura is the most important celebration of Shiite Muslims, celebrated throughout the world by Iran, Iraq, India, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan and Pakistan, to Nigeria, Sudan, Tanzania, but also regions of Russia, Australia and countries of the European Union where Shiite populations reside.
The memory of Imam Hussein is honoured every year on the tenth day of the month of Muharram (the first month of the Islamic calendar). In Greece, it has has been celebrated since 1978.