At least 31 people have died and over 100 were injured on Tuesday in Iraq’s southern city of Kerbala at an event marking the death of the grandson of Muhammad. Pilgrims are said to have fallen on top of each other in a rush to enter the city’s shrine.
The images below show Shia Muslims using knives to cut open their heads during the traditional festival to commemorate the death of Husayn ibn Ali, grandson of Muhammad, in battle.
Every year thousands of Muslims participate in this practise, seeing it as a means of having their sins forgiven. The commemorations are held on the tenth day of the first month of the Islamic year, known as Ashura.
Husayn’s died at the Battle of Karbala on October 10 680AD to determine whether he or Yazid I should succeed the prophet as the leader of Islam.
The anniversary of his death is a public holiday in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Bahrain, and Pakistan. The drawing of blood by a sword or scourge to remember Husayn is called Tatbir.
Photos: Allan Donque
Changes: Photos were cropped