Turkey’s Shiites mourn for Karbala on anniversary

Turkey’s Shiites mourn for Karbala on anniversary

Turkey’s Shiites mourn for Karbala on anniversary

Caferis, a Shiite sect, gathered in Istanbul’s Halkalı district, as well as in provinces across Turkey. AA Photo

Thousands of Shiite Muslims in Turkey on Nov. 3 commemorated the Battle of Karbala, a bloody clash that took place more than 1,000 years ago in Karbala in modern-day Iraq.

Many Caferis, a Shiite sect in Turkey, gathered in Istanbul’s Halkalı district, the northeastern provinces of Kars and Iğdır, and the northwestern province of Kocaeli, to commemorate the Battle of Karbala, which took place some 13 centuries ago and was a significant turning point in the history of Islam.

The battle of Karbala, where Ali’s son, the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, Hussayn and his relatives and supporters were killed on the 10th day of Muharrem in 682 (year 61 of the Islamic calendar) by the forces of Yazid, son of the Umayyad caliphate, is commemorated every year by Caferis as well as Sunni Muslims.

Some Caferis perform the Battle of Karbala in a passion play, to remember the pain experienced centuries ago. At the end of this year's commemorations, worshipers - who have in the past self-flagellated with chains to feel the suffering of Hussayn’s horrific death - donated blood to the Turkish Red Crescent.

The leader of Turkey's Caferi community, Selahattin Özgündüz, gave a speech at the ceremony in Halkalı, which was organized by the Caferi association, Caferider, calling for unity in the Muslim world.

Özgündüz complained that Caferis are not "known correctly" by society, stressing that they worship one God, just like all other Muslims.

Mustafa Özcivan, the chair of the Alevi Haji Bektash Veli Cultural Association in the central Anatolian province of Nevşehir, told Anadolu Agency that violence perpetrated today by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) had echoes of the violence from Karbala.

“A group that identifies itself with Islam has been killing people of different religions. This is exactly the same as the incident [Karbala] 1,000 years ago. A Muslim cannot kill anybody for the sake of Islam,” he said.