Muslims mark day of Ashura with self-flagellation rituals

Thousands of Shiite Muslims in Lebanon marked the mourning day of Ashura recently, commemorating the death of a grandson of the Prophet Mohammed by wearing black as well as engaging in bloody self-flagellation processions.

Imam Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Mohammed, was killed by armies of the caliph Yazid in 680 AD. He was said to be decapitated and his body mutilated in the battle at Karbala, now in Iraq, Reuters reports. As is custom, the crowds — many of the them hordes of shirtless men — re-enacted the killing of Hussein, hitting their backs with knife-covered chains and cutting their heads with swords, even though the self-flagellation traditions have been banned by some members of the Shiite clergy.