Shiite Muslims in Mideast mark solemn holy day of Ashorua

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By MEHDI FATTAHI
Associated Press

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Millions of Shiite Muslims, from Iran to Afghanistan and Pakistan, are marking the festival of Ashoura. It’s one of the most emotional occasions in their religious calendar, commemorating the 7th century martyrdom of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson Hussein. Security forces, particularly in Taliban-run Afghanistan, were on high alert for any violence. In the past, bloody attacks have marred the ceremonies across the Middle East as Sunni extremists who view Shiites as heretics seize on the holy day to target large gatherings of mourners. For Shiites, who represent over 10% of the world’s 1.8 billion Muslims, Hussein’s death in battle ingrained a rift in Islam and played a key role in shaping the Shiite identity.

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