AL-KADHIMIYA, Iraq: Despite the scorching summer and the sand
storms that occasionally hit Baghdad, hundreds of thousands of
devotees of Ahlul Bayt (AS) were walking Thursday towards the
Kadhimiya district of Baghdad carrying black, red and green flags.
Women, men and children are heading to the holy shrine of Al-Imam
Mussa bin Jafer al-Kadhim (AS), the seventh infallible descendant of
Prophet Muhammad (S) from all over the country amid high security
measures, in order to commemorate the martyrdom anniversary of the
imam which is marked on Rajab 25 that falls this year on July 18
Aboud Kanbar, commander of operations in Baghdad, said: "all the
ministries are now in a state of alert, and we had several meetings
over the past two weeks to ensure the visit would end in peace."
"The Iraqi forces will work to protect the visitors until the end of
the visit," he added.
Besides setting up checkpoints, Iraqi authorities have deployed
thousands of military and police officers in Baghdad, both fixed and
mobile patrols, and above the high buildings, particularly in the al-Kadhimiya
district in anticipation of any emergency.
Many roads were closed in a bid to avoid violence. The government also
banned motorcycles and wheeled carts until Sunday. Crowds are expected
to peak on Friday and Saturday.
Yet, there is still some risk, as a bomb exploded early on Thursday
targeting pilgrims who arrived near the shrine leaving 18 people
In 2005, pilgrims stampeded on a bridge when they thought there was
a suicide bomber amongst them, resulting in more than 1,000 deaths and
"Security preparations and services are good so far, and we asked the
visitors to collaborate with the security forces, hoping that
preparations would be deployed across Baghdad the mourning ends
without any losses or any breach of security as it was in the past,"
said Hazim al-Aragi, the imam who gives the speech of the Friday
prayers at al-Rawda mosque in al-Kadhimiya.
Observing Shiite events have become normal since the US-led invasion
in 2003 and the fall of Saddam. They were forbidden during his regime,
which repressed public display of worship rituals by Iraq's Shiite
Now, Iraqis go to Karbala, Najaf, Samarra and al-Kadhimiya every year
to revive the sacred religious events, accompanied by many coming from
outside the country.