A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

‘Ashura in an Age of Sectarian Strife

Yesterday I failed to note the occurrence of ‘Ashura, the 10th of Muharram, the great day of mourning among Shi‘a. (‘Ashura also has a role in Sunni Islam, but a much less prominent one.)

Given the high levels of sectarian violence in Iraq and Syria, it is perhaps worth noting that tensions were high and that at least five died in eastern Saudi Arabia. Many ‘Ashura processions around the world took on a particularly anti-ISIS coloring,

It is perhaps worth reminding outsiders that while the Sunni-Shi‘i split dates from the first Islamic century, periods of actual sectarian violence have been fairly rare historically. Unfortunately, sectarian divisions are at an unusually virulent level now.

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