Ashura processions take place in Afghanistan amid Taliban takeover

Number of worshippers much lower than in previous years because of uncertainty and fear following the group's takeover

Shiite Afghans marked the annual mourning ritual of Ashura on Thursday with uncertainty after the Taliban movement seized power in the country.

The Taliban sent representatives across the country to secure the processions that commemorate the seventh-century death of Prophet Mohammed’s grandson Imam Hussein.

The service is considered to be heretic by hardline Sunni groups, such as the Taliban.

Taliban fighters guarded the small crowds near a makeshift tent where Shiite Muslims distributed rose water to people during the Ashura procession in the capital Kabul.

Taliban fighters stand guard as Shiites take part in a mourning procession during Ashura, in Herat, Afghanistan, on Thursday.  EPA

It was a sharp contrast to previous years where the minority group was occasionally attacked.

Every year, thousands of the country's Shiite members come out to mark the occasion. Numbers were noticeably lower this year because fears of attacks by the Taliban.

Ashura in Afghanistan fell on the fifth day of the Taliban’s rule.

Fighters loyal to the group seized power in Kabul on Sunday in a move that shocked the world.

When they entered the city it had Ashura flags, banners and posters in various areas. All of them still remained in place on Thursday, videos and pictures circulating on social media showed

After regaining power from the Afghan government, Taliban representatives assured the public who were attempting to flee the country that they would not impose any violence or harm on them.

When the Taliban first ruled the country from 1996 to 2001, the group committed atrocities against Afghanistan’s ethnic Hazaras, who make up the majority of the country’s Shiite population.

To many Shiites, Ashura is a vital time of mourning as it marks the anniversary of the seventh-century Battle of Karbala in present-day Iraq, when Imam Hussein was killed.

Ashura is marked on the 10th day of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar, by all Muslims.

The death of Imam Hussein is considered by the Shia community as a symbol of humanity’s struggle against injustice, tyranny and oppression.

Updated: August 19, 2021, 6:43 PM