In Iran Even a Holy Day Means Politics as Usual

Kamangir has several photo links from the Iranian Ashura festivities yesterday including this one:

As it is Iran, everything is related to the politics; the blue banner reads: “Nuclear energy is our definite right.”
That’s a bit of a stretch on an holy day, I think most would agree.

Yesterday, Afghan Lord posted video and pictures from the bloody Ashura self flagellation ceremony in downtown Kabul where dozens of men gathered to whip themselves bloody and senseless.

Today friend Haider Ajina offers a different view on the Holy Day of Ashura:

As a moderate Shiite I find the self flagellation in form of slapping, self chain flogging, or striking ones forehead with a sword, very backward and uncivilized. It brings me to a sad statement by Karl Marx that religion is opium of the masses.

I find this type of behavior very regrettable. By the way, many of those performing this self flagellation get paid for their acts. It keeps the ignorant ignorant, the poor poor, and the masses oppressed. Self flagellation stopped in Europe in the middle ages. Some Shiites however, mourned the death of Hassan and Hussein like the orthodox mourn the death of Jesus before Easter.

The side of Ashurah, of which we do not see much, is the civil mourning, where Shiites listen to the Koran, or read it in large groups or gatherings, and later have large meals and cook for the poor, etc…. Self flagellation is a behavior encouraged by much of the Iranian Shiite school of thought. It is barely tolerated and is discouraged by many Iraqi Shiite references, especially in Najaf. God does not permit his servants to inflict pain and suffering on themselves as a sign of mourning, just as suicide is also forbidden by God.

Regards,
Haider Ajina

Another scene from the Ashura festivities in Iran, via Kamingir.

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