In the South Lebanese village Nabatieh Shiite Muslims keep an old and controversial custom alive. At the end of the Shiite holiday Ashura, blood flows in the streets, when a commemoration parade in honor of the murdered Imam Hussein ibn Ali, who was the grandson of Muhammad, take place. In a ritual, which resembles a male rite of passage, the village’s men and boys commemorate the Imam's sufferings through self-flagellation and rhythmic chants, while women and non-participating men stand by and watch. 


Some pass out from the blood loss and is driven to the hospital in one of the lined up ambulances, while the other men continue a trance-like state until they reach the center of the village.

Ashura is commemorated everywhere in the Muslim world, but the tradition of masochistic self-flagellation is looked down upon in most Muslim circles. It has been forbidden by both the Iranian Shiite Muslim ayatollah Khamenei and the Lebanese government party Hezbollah. They believe it is in dissonance with Islamic law and alienates non-Shiites.

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