Iraqi Shiite Muslim worshippers mourn outside the Imam al-Kadhim shrine as they gather to mark the anniversary of the death of the eighth century revered Imam on May 2, 2016, in Baghdad's northern district of Kadhimiya.
Pilgrims converge on the seventh
CAIRO – 10 September 2018: The US Embassy in Iraq asked its diplomatic mission on Sunday to be aware of their surroundings and to avoid crowded areas, especially in Basra city, during the upcoming four-day commemoration of Ashura due to start on September 18.
Road closure and crowds due to Ashora celebrations are expected, the embassy added, saying “some protests in Basrah have turned violent, leading to deaths and injuries to protesters and security forces. The U.S. government employees in Basrah are generally avoiding any area where demonstrations could occur, including the Basrah central business district.”
The United States mission in Iraq will have some restrictions during the month of Muharram, the first month of Islamic calendar, during which demonstrations could take place, according to the statement.
The U.S. alert came after an attack that occurred near the US Embassy in Baghdad on Friday.
Ashura is the 10th day of the first month of the Islamic calendar, in which prophets Moses and Noah were saved by God from the oppressive people, according to Sunni Muslims’ belief. Hence, Sunni Muslims usually celebrate this event in a peaceful and happy manner by fasting and helping each other.
On the contrary, Shi'a Muslims believe that Al-Hussein (the grandson of prophet Muhammed) was killed on that day, and therefore the vast majority of them usually hurt and torture themselves, feeling guilty for what happened to him.
Consequently, it is expected that violent rituals will take place in Shi’a countries, especially Iran and Iraq on that day.