Hundreds of thousands of people gathered in the city of Karbala (south of Baghdad) in recent days, many of whom arrived on foot from various regions of Iraq, to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of Imam Hussein bin Ali, grandson of God’s Messenger, may God bless him and grant him peace. Several challenges remained, foremost among which were the continuing popular protests against the country’s ruling class and the outbreak of the Corona pandemic.
This year, the presence of young protesters, and the apparent absence of politicians, was evident for the first time since 2003.
Politicians usually take advantage of this occasion to promote their parties and ideas, so their absence this time raised astonishment, especially with the near renewal of demonstrations on the 25th of this month.
Clashes near the shrine of Hussein
Karbala had witnessed clashes on Tuesday evening between the security forces and protesters calling themselves the “Tishreen Revolutionary Parade”, who wanted to enter the Imam Hussein shrine, and the police used batons to prevent them from entering and then disperse them, which resulted in a number of injuries.
A security source told Al-Jazeera Net that the reason for preventing the convoy is that it does not carry any approval to enter and march in an area between the shrines of Hussein and his brother Al-Abbas, which witnesses the influx of large numbers of visitors, which called on the organizers of the visits to prevent them, and this is a common custom for years, and its purpose is to organize Movement to prevent stampede.
He added that some of the motorcade members did not like the procedure, and a state of chaos ensued and a stampede with the forces in charge of protecting the place, which forced the police to disperse them.
According to a medical source, 5 people from the protesters sustained injuries and were taken to hospital for treatment.
Politicians are absent
When Al-Jazeera Net wanders in the old city of Karbala – which is the main gathering center for visitors – it notices, for the first time in 17 years, the absence of politicians who were previously keen to be present on such an occasion.
Ahmed Al-Shammari – who used to host a number of Iraqi politicians on such an occasion in his private home – said that this time he refused to receive the politicians after it was revealed the falsehood of what they claim in terms of religiosity and morals, indicating that this is not his position only, but most of the Karbala’is.
He continued, “I do not rule out that these politicians will be beaten or insulted if they reveal their personalities while wandering around the city and among the processions of visitors, which are frequent this time by protesters and from several provinces.”
An Iraqi politician and a former member of Parliament belonging to one of the parties of the authority in Iraq spoke to Al-Jazeera Net – on condition of anonymity – that there are many politicians who do not wish to wander in such a large gathering, after their fans said in the Iraqi street.
He pointed out that previously he used to attend this occasion and wander around Karbala for several days, but this year he had to pay the visit in Karbala for only two hours and then leave.
As for the owner of the service procession of Muhammad Sahib Al-Khazraji, he said, “The people knew who they have and who they are, so the politicians became exposed after the October protests, in addition to the fear of the reaction of citizens – especially those who protested them – that made them away from the visit this year.”
Al-Khazraji – a supporter of the protests in Karbala – indicated that it has become difficult to delude the people with promises and false statements and claim to follow the path of Imam Hussein.
Street Confidence Vibration
Political analysts attributed the absence of politicians from visiting Hussein’s forties this year to their awareness of the lack of confidence in the street, and for fear that they would be targeted by people.
Najaf political analyst Ghazwan al-Issawi said, “The absence of politicians from appearing in public events – especially the visit of forty – is due to their realization that the street does not trust them after many years of suffering because of the people because of their policies.”
“The presence of young people on this occasion this year indicates that the country must be led by ambitious, promising young people who want to build their country in a better way,” he added.
For his part, the journalist Falah al-Ghazi, who is close to the protest squares in southern Iraq, said, “The vast majority of Iraqi politicians avoided appearing in the Arbaeen visit, for fear of the public for considerations that this stage is sensitive, as it is the stage of preparation for the upcoming elections, and thus any appearance of some of them.” In the spotlight and public pressure, it could have a negative impact on these entitlements. “
He explained, “Most of the political parties and forces are trying to renew themselves and include the youth component and form entities and movements related to youth.”
On October 1, 2019, Iraq witnessed demonstrations that seemed spontaneous and motivated by social demands, but they were directed with live bullets, and resulted in hundreds of deaths and thousands of others injured, forcing former Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi to resign, to form a new government headed by Mustafa Al-Kazemi, but the protests Still going.