The annual gathering of tens of thousands of Shiite Muslims gather up in the holy city of Karbala in Iraq the tension mounts up for any unpredictable horrors that recently the country has been suffering through explosions. To avoid any mishap that could trigger the sectarian violence Iraqi forces have tightened the security all around the city of Karbala which would remain active and sharp throughout the culmination of revered mourning period.
The violence against the Shiite Muslims has been reaching heights where explosions have killed hundreds recently attacks on pilgrims who make the journey on foot have also been attacked and have been killed and wounded, the blame has been on the Sunni extremists since the area around the city of Karbala is mostly based upon the Sunni population, and repeated accusations and incidents of targeting Shiite is being reported since 2003. The attacks are based upon the political deadlock which doesn’t seem to be resolved as both sides seek power controlled and altered by US and the most powerful state in the Muslim world Saudi Arabia.
As the political and local unrest goes in favor of their interest the situations have prolonged and are not made to be solved on common grounds. The repeated acts of violence and hatred against each other have raised fear in the society, against which the government seems paralyzed to take any action to halt it. The sectarian violence has heated up after the US military withdrawal in Iraq, which has been the basic element of tearing the country apart.
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has ordered to tighten the security to avoid any attacks on pilgrims. The Security forces have sealed roads and have also increased the number of checkpoints on the resting places with Shiite majority including Mosques and main roads leading into the holy city, a three day walk to the south for pilgrims would reach the mourning session.
The Majalis and the holy protest against the evil for which the Shiite would gather for is called as Arbaeen would go on for 40 days. The remembrance is based on the tragedy in the seventh century with the death of the 3rd Imam Hussein bin Ali ibn-e-Talib (grandson of Prophet Mohammed). Hussein was killed during a battle in Karbala to save Islam from being abducted by the infiltrators that began after the death of Prophet Mohammed's death in 632. That led to the division of Shiite and Sunni beliefs.
During Saddam Hussein's rule under the Western Influences favored by Saudi Arabia many Sunni leaders forbade people from making the journey on foot they also didn’t favor the ritualistic practices and the promotion of the cause for the revival of cause. Following the U.S led invasion that toppled Saddam, the pilgrimages grew in numbers and the similar Western Influence again brought about under the influence of Saudi Arabia has been resumed, sources claim.
This year the pilgrimage has arrived right after a week when US military and armed forces have left the country, and as the number of people to attend the pilgrimage has increased the violence to scare the crowd away and to undo the unity of Shiite and Sunni such acts have been planned. Recently 12 people were brutally killed and more than 50 were left bleeding and wounded on Monday in car bomb attacks on two predominantly Shiite communities in Baghdad. While on January 5th another suicide bomber struck an army checkpoint in the southern city of Nasiriya where pilgrims were gathered that killed over 70 people.
-- Al Arabiya Digital