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Mourning in Old Damascus

March 10th, 2007 · 18 Comments · Uncategorized

Shia Muslims have come from across the world to Damascus to celebrate one of the most important events of the year.

It is the end of forty days of mourning for the death of the Imam Hussein – he was the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed, and Shias consider him to have been martyred. Every year, they mourn for forty days, as if he had died all over again.

They beat their chest, in sympathy with his pain.

The Imam Hussein was killed in Karbala, in Iraq – the scene of many, many more killings over the past four murderous years. And Shias would normally make a pilgrimage to Karbala.

But because of the violence and occupation, they have chosen to come to Damascus. To the Umayid Mosque.

The Umayid Mosque is a symbol of modern-day tolerance at the heart of one of the most religiously open cities in the Arab World. The Umayid Mosque is a site of pilgrimage for Shia Muslims, Sunni Muslims, and for Christians too (there is a shrine to John the Baptist inside the huge main prayer hall – where his head is kept). And you know what, I’ve seen a few non-belivers in there too, making a cultural pilgrimage.

Damascus’s best photographer, John Wreford, has captured these incredible images of Shia from across the world streaming through Souq Al-Hamidiyah towards the Umayid Mosque.

In a sign of the tolerance of this city, Christian children and adults celebrated the Feast of the Cross just meters away from where these pictures were taken a few weeks ago (in Bab Touma). Where else in the Arab World could these two events happen so freely.

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18 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Anonymous // Mar 10, 2007 at 5.05 pm

    what a shame

  • 2 Anonymous // Mar 10, 2007 at 5.20 pm

    once again the honnor of damascene is insulted here anyway let them to see the real face of the rafidits.

  • 3 Wassim // Mar 10, 2007 at 6.27 pm

    I don’t know what the shame is that anonymous is talking about. It’s a beautiful thing seeing our Shia brothers coming in safety to practice and welcome to all in Damascus. It’s time to stop doing what the Americans want ie. an inter Islamic rift, and start building bridges with the Shia. Such blatant sectarian hatred is exactly what foreign pawns such as this “anonymous” are being encouraged to practice. Wake up!

  • 4 Anonymous // Mar 10, 2007 at 7.41 pm

    Good post.
    This is a beautiful blog, I often use to visit it.
    It’s a good thing to see Christian and Muslim praying in a few meters without any kind of problem.
    I hope Damascus is as tolerant as you say; one day, I would like to visit it;nevertheless the whole Syria is a wonderful place!

    Though I would like to say I disagree with Wassim, for a simple reason: I do not think America is trying to create a rift between muslims worshippers, between Shias and Sunnis: maybe its policy in the region is totally wrong, but in my opinion what you said is really stupid, isn’it?
    Anyway, the Syria news wire is a great blog, I’m going to add it to my favourite blog!!
    Have a nice day!Patrick
    http://www.ilsecolo.blogspot.com

  • 5 Anonymous // Mar 10, 2007 at 7.55 pm

    wassimdo u think that they love u??? ,is there mo sectarian people than the shias and alawites?look at what happened with the moslems in iraq and iran,when the safavis took the power they killed all the sunni moslems ,and khomaini destroyed all the sunni mosques in the city of mashaad.
    i dont know if u are a muslim or not …but all their religion consist in cursing the wifes of the prophet and sahaba.
    dont be fooled with their slogans,they are the first to make deals with the israelis and americans under the table and shot america shaytan akbar at the same time ..as it happened in iraq ,afghanistan and the arm deals between israel and khomaini.

  • 6 Anonymous // Mar 10, 2007 at 8.02 pm

    http://www.shianews.com/hi/middle_east/news_id/0000779.php

    does damascus deserve that ?

  • 7 Anonymous // Mar 10, 2007 at 8.10 pm

    do not think America is trying to create a rift between muslims worshippers, between Shias and Sunnis

    this is true ,but the same americans are using the iranian made militias in iraq for their sake.

    when we say ,no to iran it doesnt mean that we are pro america .but the opposite is true ,iran is ready to help the usa to destroy arab countries and iranian works in iraq prove this.

  • 8 norman // Mar 11, 2007 at 12.22 am

    It is amasing to me for people to complain about Iran ,I am not a moslem but i look at facts not emmotions
    in the Shah time Iran had an embasy in Israel and Israel in Iran , the revolution took place and Khomeni came to pwer , he broke the relation with Israel sided with the Palestinians and called to join to liberate Palestine , suddenly he became the enemy and Iraq Saddam was pushed to start a war of aggretion to stop the Iranian revolution and waste the resources of Iraq and Iran , they did what they had to do to deffend their counrty , they continue to be for the Palestinian rights because of Syria’s stand on princible with Iran which kept Iran as a potential freind of the Arabs , We all know how Saudi Arabia and Kuwait helped Saddam Iraq then lowered the price of oil so he can not pay his debt which pushed him to attack Kuwait.
    When i look at what Iran did to the Palestinians and Syria and Lebanon ,I see contrast to what Saudi did , Iran gave finantial aid to the Plaestinians ,Saudi boycutted their Gov ,Iran and Syria helped Hizballa liberate south Lebanon while Saudi helped Harreri steal 40 billion from Lebanon Iran helped build the first Car factory in Syria with price seems to be affordable while Saudi denies Syria any help and tries to marginalise Syria .
    Iran is more Arab in deeds than SaudiArabia ,
    The only time Saudi moves is when there is a chance for the Arab countries to be stronger they did that in th seventies when there was a move to build a united country between Iraq and Syria only to see that finished by Sddam , at that time Saudi and the gulf atate started the gulf cooperation counsil as a response .the way i look at things and reliigons , i beleive we should let everyone pray as they like that is between them and God man is not resposible to save people souls that is beter left to God .

  • 9 norman // Mar 11, 2007 at 12.25 am

    One more thing America is not trying to devide the Moslems SaudiArabia is doing that .look at the scare tactic they use in Lebanon and Iraq of the Shia.

  • 10 Anonymous // Mar 11, 2007 at 12.38 am

    norman ,this is the problem with iran ,they are not struggling in the name of palestine ,but for political gains and the safety for their regime…
    the same happens with the palestinian cause,they use it as political tool only and those hate the palestinians ,look at what happened to the palestinians of iraq ,they are raped ,killed by the iranian backed militias…the same thing happened in lebanon ,the shia lebanese of amal killed more palestinians than israel did…u should understand what is takiya ,batiniya ,to understand their tactics

  • 11 Anonymous // Mar 11, 2007 at 12.41 am

    btw,the same who are the supporters of hezbollah welcomed the israeli army till 1982 which was stopped in Beirut who resisted 40 days…another case of takiya.

  • 12 Wassim // Mar 11, 2007 at 2.08 am

    Patrick, if the worst you can say to me is that I’ve said something stupid then please pray tell what you have that sounds sane. If the harshest words you can say for your government are that America’s “Policy in the region is totally wrong” then I recommend you stop reading Thomas Friedman or whatever it is you read and write your Senator asking for America to withdraw from Iraq, withdraw support from Israel and stay out of the Middle East. You’re opinion is something you are entitled to, but for heavens sake, you need to have one too. Entitlement does not mean possession of one, nor does it mean you are right.

    To both Anonymous’, I think Norman expressed it in the best possible terms and it is yourselves who need to be aware that the United States is the enemy of the Arabs first and foremost. “Moderate” regimes in the region are now virtually working with Israel and almost publicly sided with it in it’s last war with Lebanon. I am Sunni, I know my religion well and I know there is more to Shia’s religion than cursing dead people who can’t do anything anymore. Move on…

  • 13 Wassim // Mar 11, 2007 at 2.13 am

    OK, just had a look at your blog Patrick. Apologies as it seems you are not American, however, any credibility I thought you may have had has disappeared as soon as I saw a link to jihadwatch.com on your blog. Sorry to be so hard, but you really need to widen your scope of reading and frame of reference before calling peoples ideas stupid…

  • 14 Anonymous // Mar 11, 2007 at 2.27 am

    anonym,if u think that one million alawi and one million shia lebanese are a threat against israel so u are lying to yourself …and yes they are allowed to play their verbal game because israel has to choose between the worse and the less bad.
    the true popular power in the region are the sunni people ,that ‘s why the presidents of sunni countries are supported by the usa and israel…any free sunni people will be a problem for israel and iran.

  • 15 Anonymous // Mar 11, 2007 at 2.37 am

    wassim ,do u know how much their hatred is big toward your history and your people ???do u realy believe that khamainai love the syrian and palestinian people ?
    he is a liar and hypocrit and you know that i’m sure.
    but my attack is only directed toward the followers of iran ,not the shias who are more inclined to their arabic identity.

  • 16 norman // Mar 11, 2007 at 3.10 am

    Sasa, exciting topics , I guise religon always is ,
    Anon, I want Saudi arabia to use the Palestinian , Lebanese and the Syrian problems for their own use and help these countries in deeds not words , Do you think that Israel will be still occuping Arab lands if SaudiArabia stops oil shipment untill Israel withdrow to 1967 border ,I do not think so , but we know what happened to King Faisal when he did that .any country in the world will not provide oil to it’s enemy as long as it’s land is ocupied that if you think that Syrian and Palestinian land is Arab land.

  • 17 Anonymous // Mar 11, 2007 at 3.43 am

    sasa i agree 100 % with what u said here ,if iran and israel is playing with us today ,the Saudi and Egyptian rulers are the first responsible for this disaster.
    But here too,we should understand the plot designed against the arabs, it’s not allowed to have an important arab sunni country like egypt,syria or saudi arabia to be democratic,so expect that will remain under the shoes of the moukhabarat exposed to iranian and israeli plots for years…

  • 18 Anonymous // Mar 11, 2007 at 3.45 am

    sorry i meant norman

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