MEMBERS of a Newport Mosque Community marched for peace through the town center today (Sunday).
The annual Ashura march commemorates Husayn ibn Ali, a grandson of Muhammad who was martyred, along with his family, 14 centuries ago.
This year marked 40 years of the march in the city, where mourners dressed in black marched and sang as they marched from their mosques through the streets.
Mubarak Ali is the secretary of the Islamic Society of Wales, which organized the Newport march.
“Today is the commemoration of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, Imam Husayn, and 72 of his family on the sands of Karbala, Iraq,” he said.
“It was a fight against the tyrant Yazid, it was good versus evil. [Husayn] refused to be ruled by a king who followed evil ways, and thousands of Yazid’s army slaughtered and murdered him, innocent women, children, and other companions.
“Imam Husayn, through his sacrifice for Islam and everyone, his name lives on all over the world, and we commemorate and love him.”
The Muslim community of Newport played a proud role in observing Ashura in the UK.
“This is our 40th year,” Mr Ali said. “We were the first in the UK to hold this commemoration, and the first in Europe.”
Hundreds of Muslims joined the solemn parade through the city center, many carrying flags and banners, and many participants beating their chests in rhythm.
Several participants were handing out leaflets to other members of the public, with information about the history of Ashura.
A white horse was also part of the procession, draped in paint-smeared cloth to signify the bloodshed in Karbala.
“We follow Imam Husayn and what he fought for,” said Nusrat Ali, one of the volunteers. “He didn’t just fight for us Shia Muslims, he was for all of humanity.”
“The family ranged from a six-month-old child to Iman Husayn, who was in his 50s, and they faced an army of thousands,” added Koobra Akhter, another of the volunteers.
“This procession is peaceful, and one thing we want to convey is that we are promoting peace, we are promoting justice – anyone who experiences any type of torture – people need to know.
“Even though it was 1,400 years ago, things like this still exist. It’s to bring peace to the world, regardless of your religion.”
The march continued along Commercial Street and Charles Street before participants returned to the mosque. Mr Ali thanked Rudi and his security staff, as well as Gwent Police, for their support during the march.