Muslim festival ritual leaves kids covered in blood

(Photo credit: NOAH SEELAM/AFP/Getty Images)

Shiite Muslims take part each year in a ceremony that marks the Muslim festival of Ashura, which mourns the death of the Prophet Mohammed’s grandson, Husayn ibn Ali.

The day is remarkable in the public displays of mourning that often results in bloody worshipers — to include children.

Ashura falls on the tenth day of the first month of the Islamic calendar and the day is a national holiday in Muslim countries such as Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Bahrain, and Pakistan, according to The Sun.

It’s a day that often involves public expressions of mourning and Muslims will mark the occasion with the practice of Tatbir, where blood is drawn in remembrance of the innocent blood of Husayn, the British paper reported.

Blood drawn by a sword or scourge … or a really big knife. And children aren’t always exempt from the ritual.

(Photo credit: HAIDAR HAMDANI/AFP/Getty Images)

More on the holiday from The Sun:

They mark Husayn’s death at the Battle of Karbala, fought between Husayn and Yazid I on October 10 680AD to determine who should succeed the prophet as the leader of Islam.

Yazid is considered a tyrant by some Muslims, and Husayn’s death is considered by the Shia community to be a symbol of humanity’s struggle against injustice, tyranny, and oppression.


The belief is that Tatbir cleanses worshipers of their sins, with Shiite Muslims saying “a single tear shed for Husayn washes away a hundred sins.”

“The ritual, which is sometimes carried out on children, is controversial within the Muslim world,” The Sun noted. “With some research suggesting it can cause lasting psychological damage.”

(Photo credit should read HAIDAR HAMDANI/AFP/Getty Images)

Below is a video of self-flagellation taking place in a town in Syra.

*Caution: Graphic Content

Some clerics consider it to be self harm, which is forbidden in Islam.

One alternative is to reportedly have worshipers donate blood with organizations like the Red Cross.

One social media user took great exception to children being included.

“If consenting adults want to hack themselves up for Ashura, fair enough. I support bodily autonomy,” the tweet said. “But it’s utterly monstrous to slice children open as part of the ‘festivities.'”

Here are a sampling of other posts on the holiday from Twitter:

In a related matter, there were reports of a stampede of Iraqi worshipers celebrating Ashura that resulted in 31 deaths on Tuesday:


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