Tight security in Iraq as thousands make annual Shia pilgrimage

Tight security in Iraq as thousands make annual Shia pilgrimage
Thousands of pilgrims ascended on Saturday to Al-Kadhimiya in Baghdad's northern district, to commemorate the death of Imam Musa Al-Kadhim.
1 min read
26 February, 2022
Pilgrims in Al-Kadhimiya district of Baghdad visit Al-Kadhimayn Shrine ahead of the death anniversary of Imam Musa al-Kadhim [Getty]

Thousands of pilgrims dressed in black made their way on foot towards a gold-domed shrine in northwestern Baghdad on Saturday, part of a weeklong procession to commemorate the death of a revered figure in Shia Islam.

Most streets in the Iraqi capital were closed due to the large number of pilgrims descending on Baghdad from mainly southern and central provinces. Tents were set up along the route leading to the shrine of Imam Mussa Al-Kadhim, who died at the end of the eighth century.

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A high number of Iraqi security forces were deployed to protect the annual pilgrimage, expected to culminate Sunday morning. The event usually draws hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from around the world each year to Baghdad. Very few pilgrims wore masks.

Vehicles were banned in the mainly Shia area of Kadhimya, where the shrine is located. The religious festival marks the anniversary of the death in the eighth century of Mussa Al-Kadhim, the seventh of the 12 Shia imams.

The march comes amid Iraqi frustration with political leaders who have been unable to form a government, more than four months since Iraqis voted in general elections. Political disputes between Iraq’s main Kurdish and Shia political parties have hindered the government formation process.