Saturday, February 6, 2010
Arbaeen Procession in Karachi: A Short Eyewitness Account
"There were clear reports in the media that the Arbaeen (also called, Chehlum) procession in Karachi would be targeted by terrorists once again, following the deadly attack on the last Ashura. No real guarantees that anyone participating in the commemorations would return home safely. But that did not stop the mourners from joining. It was estimated that the turn out was at least three times higher than usual – much more than what was on the day of the last Ashura. A good number of mourners came wearing symbolic white shrouds. Some shrouds had written on them Azadari Ya Shahadat (Commemoration or Martyrdom!), others had Shahadat Sa'adat (Martyrdom is Success). Even after reports of the two blasts that came one after another within the span of just two hours in the afternoon, the mourners – men, women, children, elderly – continued their march, unceasingly chanting, Labbaik Ya Hussain, Labbaik Ya Hussain.
The mourners clearly understood that the real target was Muharram processions. The enemies wanted to confine these processions to indoors. They wanted to reduce them to a spiritless ritual, so that these gatherings that inspire the world with the message of truth and resistance against injustice of any kind would not be effective any more. After the last Ashura blast, some well-intentioned but naïve people in the authorities also made similar suggestions of "limiting" or "confining" the processions in the name of security. But over years of being targeted by one or another form of violence, the Shias in Pakistan have understood very well the real goals of their enemies. The enemies want to impose a 'defeatist mentality' on them, that the Shias would be allowed to perform their religious practices as long as they remain invisible in the public sphere, and that they should not dare to interfere in determining the future of religion and politics in Pakistan or resist the neo-imperial plots in the region.
No single person or organization was controlling the miles-long Arbaeen procession on Friday. It had not been surprising for any other crowd to lose patience and break discipline upon hearing the news of the tragic blasts. That is perhaps what the terrorists would have wanted. But the self-discipline with which the mourners continued the procession spoke of their political maturity and fearless devotion as a nation. One was reminded of the political resilience and organized response of the Lebanese Shias during and after the 2006 Israeli war."
Muharram Blasts in Karachi: Why the Government is Implicated
Six Talking Points about the Ashura blast in Karachi
photo courtesy: online