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Sunday, 24 March, 2002, 16:56 GMT
In pictures: Ashura ceremonies
Shia Muslims have been taking part in the religious ceremony of Ashura which commemorates the death of the Imam Hussein at the battle of Kerbala in 680 AD.

The event marked the divide in Islam between Shias and the majority Sunnis.

Ashura is the peak of 10 days of mourning during the Islamic month of Moharram.

In some Shia strongholds, men flagellate themselves in rituals in which they share the suffering of the Imam.

Clerics hold their heads and weep as they listen to stories of Muslim Shia leader Hussein
The story of the martyrdom of Mohammed's grandson Hussein was recited in Beirut, causing clerics to weep

Lebanese Shia Muslims perform self-flagellation rituals
Men beat themselves with chains in a display of mourning for the seventh century Imam

Shia Muslim members perform self-flagellation in Beirut
Other devotees cut themselves with swords

Posters of Imam Hussein carried in Istanbul
In a procession in Istanbul giant posters of the Imam were carried

Women weep in Ashura ceremonies in Istanbul
Turkish women wore scarves bearing the name of Hussein's sister Zeynep

Boys beat themselves around the neck in Istanbul
And boys beat themselves on the chest as they proceeded through the streets

Afghan women and girls watch men and boys beat themselves in Mazar-e-Sharif
In Afghanistan, women and girls watched the ceremony being celebrated openly for the first time in years
See also:

24 Mar 02 | Middle East
Shia Muslims mark Ashura
24 Mar 02 | South Asia
Afghans mark Muslim mourning
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