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Iraq hosts over 26 million pilgrims for Arba’een

Pilgrims gather along the walk way between the shrine of Imam Hussein, the third Shia Imam (background), and the shrine of Hazrat Abbas (not seen), on December 3, 2015, in the Iraqi city of Karbala. (AFP photo)

More than 26 million pilgrims are taking part in the mourning rituals of Arba’een in Iraq, Transport Minister Baqir Jabr al-Zubeidi says.

Zubeidi said the number of pilgrims is on course to hit 27 million on the culmination of the grand event on Friday. Some 60 percent of the pilgrims are women, according to the Iraqi minister.

Arba’een rituals take place in Karbala and mark the 40th day after the martyrdom anniversary of the third Shia Imam, Imam Hussein. Imam Hussein and 72 of his loyal companions, including family members, were martyred on Ashura, the tenth day of the lunar month of Muharram, in the battle of Karbala against the second Umayyad caliph, Yazid I, in 680 A.D. Imam Hussein was martyred after he refused to pledge allegiance to the tyrant ruler.

An aerial view taken on December 1, 2015, shows pilgrims gathering at the shrines of Hazrat Abbas (front) and Imam Hussein (background-R) during the Arba'een rituals in Karbala, Iraq.(AFP photo)

Pilgrims from over 100 countries, including Iran, have been gathering in Karbala for over a week to mark Arba’een, defying threats by Takfiri terrorists to attack them. Many of the mourners have reached the city on foot to show their devotion to the Shia Imam.

Iraqi officials also said they had adopted special security measures this year to protect pilgrims against possible terrorist attacks.

In a message on Friday, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif thanked Iraqi authorities, government and people for successfully hosting millions of pilgrims.

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