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Greek Shi'ites mark Ashura with fierce flagellation

ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: Hundreds of Shi'ite Muslims in Greece observed the religious festival of Ashura on Sunday with prayer, song and self-flagellation to mark the killing of Imam Hussein bin Ali believed to be grandson of the Prophet Muhammad and the third Shia Imam. In a small side street near the Greek port of Pireaus, barefoot Shi'ite immigrants from Pakistan, Iraq, Iran and India gathered to observe the traditional ritual of drawing blood by self-flagellation to express deep sorrow over the death of Imam Hussein. The Shi'ites stripped off their shirts, beat their chests and prayed before flagellating themselves with a chain that had short, sharp knives hanging at its end. They released pigeons in the air and sang and cried over a horse with painted red hooves and a rich harness that symbolized the horse Imam Hussein had been riding the day he died. The day of Ashura is the eighth day of the Shi'ite mourning month of Muharram which commemorates the Battle of Kerbala in Iraq around 1,300 years ago.

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