[Published here on September 11, 2020]
A trove of Saddam-era files secretly returned to Iraq has pried open the country’s painful past, prompting hopes some may learn the fate of long-lost relatives along with fears of new bloodshed.
Men chant ‘Ya Hussein’ as they beat their heads. Image by James Haines-Young
[Published here November 18, 2013]
KFAR RUMMAN — THE excruciating wail could be heard without the microphones. On November 14th, thousands of women clad in black abayas and children watched the army of the caliph Yazid slaughter Hussein, a grandson and would-be heir of the Prophet Muhammad, in a theatrical recreation of the battle in 680 AD that split Islam into its Sunni and Shia branches.
Below the stage in this town in southern Lebanon, groups of young men prepared themselves for a bloodier part of Ashura, as the day of mourning for Hussein’s death is known. Men used razors to carve small incisions on the scalps of the men and boys, some as young as two-years-old. Cries of “Ya Hussein, Ya Hussein” echoed through the streets as men pounded their foreheads, blood streaming down their faces.