In one of the largest organized marches in the history of the world, tens of millions of Shia Muslims made an incredibly heartening statement, by risking their lives to travel through war-stricken areas to openly defy ISIS. This massive event that would have undoubtedly helped to ease tensions in the West was almost entirely ignored by corporate media.
Women, men, elderly, and children made their way to the city of Karbala on Sunday and Monday last week for the holy day of Arbaeen. Arbaeen is the event which marks the end of the 40-day mourning period following Ashura, the religious ritual that commemorates the death of the Prophet Mohammad’s grandson Imam Hussein in 680 AD.
As the Independent reports, massive crowds paid homage to the shrines of Imam Hussein and his half-brother Abbas in Karbala, where they were killed in a revolt against the Umayyad ruler Yazeed in the 7th century AD when they refused to pledge allegiance to Yazeed’s Umayyad caliphate.
Registering only as a blip on the Independent, this most amazing feat was conducted in spite of ISIS, as well as the sacred annual pilgrimage. As the UK paper notes, the march comes as nearly 80 people, many of them pilgrims returning from commemorating Arbaeen in Karbala, were killed in the latest Isis attack in the area. Isis has declared Shia Muslims apostates and targeted them in its bloody campaign to establish a hardline caliphate across Iraq and Syria, according to the Independent. The brave men, women, and children marched on, knowing that an ISIS suicide bomber had just struck near Karbala the week prior.
In recent years, this march has taken on a dual purpose. Where it was once a march for Arbaeen, it now also encompasses the Shia resistance and protest against ISIS terrorists. “I came walking from Basra with my wife and three sons … This is the third time. We started walking 13 days ago and reached Karbala on Sunday night,” said Pilgrim Jaber Kadhem Khalif. According to the Independent, the 40-year-old said his prayers would go to the Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary group that has tens of thousands of men deployed on the front lines to fight ISIS. Umm Ali, who came without her husband, as he is currently fighting ISIS on the front lines, said, “I came with my son and two daughters. I came from Samawa to Najaf by car, then from Najaf to Karbala on foot, to make a plea for my husband’s safety. “We ask God to support us against Daesh [ISIS] members, to help us liberate Mosul and urge our politicians to remember the people who have sacrificed so much.” In spite of this pilgrimage being one of the most massive marches in the world, the West conveniently ignored it. Arbaeen is magnitudes larger than the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca — yet Mecca is the only event that ever receives headlines in the West. Given the recent revelation that the Shia Muslims are also marching against Daesh, one can’t help but wonder why this isn’t all over American news.
According to the Independent, organizers of the annual Arbaeen procession in U.K. have previously spoken of their frustration over the lack of mainstream media coverage of the event. “Unfortunately [some] media outlets have gone for stories that to some extent can be divisive. If a group of Muslims does something good, it’s not mentioned or the religion is not mentioned. But if someone does something [negative], it is on the front page and their religion is mentioned,” Mohammed Al-Sharifi, a volunteer at last year’s event told the Independent. And he is right. Many of the stories on Muslims in the U.S. that make it on to the mainstream are those that stoke divide. When a Muslim hero saves hundreds of lives by jumping on a bomb — which actually happened in July — the mainstream and the Islamophobic alternative media is mum. Those who would judge 1.6 billion people by the actions of just a few are creating a narrative in which innocent lives are put in danger. Throughout history, most mainstream religions have perpetuated extreme violence upon the world. To attempt to paint Islam as the problem is no better than labeling all Catholics murders for the inquisition.