For millennia, Iraqis have turned to religion as they grieve their dead. This year, a pandemic and the killings of hundreds of young protestors have lent greater sorrow to the Shiite mourning ceremonies of Ashura held in late August.
Every year, thousands of Shiite Muslims mark Ashura with a pilgrimage to Imam Hussein’s resting place inside a glittering shrine in the holy city of Karbala. This year, Ashura mourners have combined their religious rites with demands for justice, their eyes flashing with pain as they lift framed portraits of slain friends and relatives. Iraqis are also mourning more than 8,000 loved ones who have lost their lives to Covid-19, among nearly 300,000 confirmed cases in the country.