Every year Shia Muslims commemorate the loss of Hussein, a grandson
and would-be heir to the Prophet Muhammad who was murdered in 680AD.
They mark both his martyrdom on Ashura, the tenth day of the Muslim
month of Muharram, and the end of the traditional mourning period 40
Modern tragedy has intruded on these rites with dismal regularity in
recent times, as Sunni extremists have repeatedly targeted Shia
pilgrims. This Ashura, which fell on December 5th, bombs killed some 30
Shias in Iraq and 55 more at a crowded Shia shrine in Afghanistan’s
capital, Kabul. Bombers struck again in Iraq on January 10th, killing 19
Shias. Five days later an attack on a Shia procession in the Pakistani
province of Punjab killed 21, and another huge bomb in the Iraqi port
city of Basra killed 53.
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