More than 5 million people have already entered the city of Karbala in Iraq ahead of the Day of Arbaeen, which is the 40th day after the anniversary of the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (PBUH), the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (S).
Aqeel al-Masoudi, the head of the security board of the Karbala Governorate Council, said on Saturday that more than 250,000 foreigners are seen among 5 million people who have entered the city.
The Arbaeen ceremony is consistently among the largest peaceful gatherings in the world, which for the current Islamic calendar year is going to be held on December 23, 2013.
Security forces in Iraq have been taking tougher measures by sealing off roads and increasing checkpoints on routes used by Shias to visit shrines in southern cities and around the capital Baghdad.
Despite tight security measures, dozens of people heading to Karbala were killed in terrorist attacks over the past few days.
Only on Friday, 14 people were killed by roadside bomb attacks in the north of the country.
However, the threatening security condition has not stopped flow of people toward Karbala.
For nearly 30 years under Saddam's regime it was forbidden to commemorate Arbaeen publicly in Iraq.
In 2008, approximately nine million religious observers converged on Karbala to commemorate Arbaeen.
In 2009, the number of people visiting Karbala on Arbaeen significantly increased.
According to BBC News and Press TV, over ten million people had reached the city of Karbala one or two days before Arbaeen.
According to Al Alam, during the last Arbaeen event which was on January 3rd, 2013, more than 18 million people walked toward Karbala from across Iraq.
(Source: Al Alam)
Subscribe to our RSS feed to stay in touch and receive all of TT updates right in your feed reader