An Afghan Shi'ite Muslim flagellates himself during an Ashoura procession in Kabul, Afghanistan, November 3, 2014..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Shi'ite Muslims around the world marked their Ashoura religious ritual around the Middle East on Tuesday.
Ashoura marks the death over 1,300 years ago of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed at the battle of Kerbala in Iraq in 680, in the culmination of a power struggle that ushered in the Sunni-Shi'ite divide which still shapes the Middle East's political map.
That led to the division of Islam into two sects - Sunni and Shi'ite - a schism that continues to plague the Islamic world.
Shi'ites across the Middle East consider Ashoura a day of mourning.
Some worshipers cut their heads and slap their wounds, a sign of solidarity with Hussein's suffering.
The ritual self-flagellation, though, is considered controversial and is not practiced everywhere.