More than three million Shiites marked a revered annual pilgrimage to the Iraqi holy city of Karbala amid tight security to thwart attacks. More than three million Shiites marked the annual pilgrimage to Karbala amid tight security and attacks on the way to the holy city that killed dozens of people. (AFP/Mohammed Sawaf)
Three million Iraqi pilgrims converged on Karbala this weekend to commemorate a Shiite holiday.
Thousands of Shiite pilgrims congregated Sunday in the holy city of Karbala to commemorate the birth of ninth century Imam Muhammad al-Mahdi.
Muhammad al-Mahdi was the last of the 12 most revered Shiite Imams. China’s state-run Xinhua news agency reported that pilgrims from around Iraq traveled to the holy site to commemorate the imam, who Muslims believe will return at the end of time to bring peace and justice to mankind.
More than 40,000 security forces and checkpoints around the city south of Baghdad were set up to keep pilgrims safe, said Karbala police chief Maj. Gen. Raid Shakir.
Iraqis today are free to celebrate Muslim holidays. Once Saddam was ousted, Iraqi Shiites started to practice their faith and commemorate their imams openly.
The war in Iraq is won and today the former regime is a developing democracy. Despite this, Barack Obama still says his difficult decision as an Illinois state senator to protest the war against tyrant Saddam Hussein was the right thing to do.
UPDATE: BG found another Iraqi source that says it was more like 4 million.