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  Updated: January 26, 2011

World’s biggest gathering … 16 million pour in Karbala for Arbaeen, this year Al-Arbaeeniyah unprecedented

By: Ismail Zabeeh

HOLY CITY OF KARBALA, Iraq: The spokesman of the holy Abbasid shrine Ali Al Saffar said that Ziyarah Al-Arbaeeniyah this year was unprecedented with regard to number of pilgrims, quantity of food prepared and distributed, free accommodation and treatment services all this and much more what happened in the ziyarah.

According to the official Karbala governorate council head Mr Muhammad Al-Mousawi had announced that more than 16 million pilgrims thronged the holy city of Karbala for annual mourning rituals, with security forces keeping a tight watch.

Arbaeen marks 40 days after the Ashura anniversary commemorating the slaying of Imam Hussein, at the hands of Yazid in 680 AD.

Elegies blared from loudspeakers throughout the city and black flags fluttered alongside pictures of Al-Imam Al-Hussein and his half-brother Al-Abbas, both of whom are buried in the city.

Security forces were on alert throughout. Around 120,000 police forces were deployed in and around the city.

AFP reported that Karbala governor Amal al-Deen al-Har said that 15 million Shiite pilgrims had been through the city, 110 kilometres (70 miles) south of Baghdad, over the past two weeks.

Mohammad Sadiq al-Har, the head of the city's hospitalities guild, said Karbala's packed hotels and restaurants had catered to 11 million Iraqis and 50,000 pilgrims from 30 other countries.

Security for the pilgrims was paramount, said Muhammed al-Mousawi, head of the provincial council.


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