Thousands of Shiite Muslims Gather in Pakistan For a Religious Procession

Published May 6th, 2021 - 04:01 GMT

Thousands of Shiite Muslim devotees –- many not wearing masks -- gathered in Pakistan's eastern city of Lahore for a religious procession on Tuesday, fanning fears about the spread of the coronavirus after similar crowds were blamed in neighbouring India for its own surge.

The federal government issued a notice banning mass gatherings commemorating the death of Prophet Mohammad's companion and son-in-law Imam Ali, but local negotiations with religious leaders failed. Dressed in black, devotees chanted slogans and slapped their chests in unison while others whipped themselves with blades.

Members of Pakistan's Shiite sect make up around 20 percent of the Islamic republic's 220 million population. Smaller processions were also held in major cities across the country.

Pakistan is struggling to contain the third wave of infections. Only a small fraction of its population has been vaccinated. Pakistani authorities have largely avoided clamping down on religious activities in recent months.

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Shiite Muslim devotees take part in a procession to commemorate the death anniversary of Prophet Mohammad's companion

Shiite Muslim devotees take part in a procession to commemorate the death anniversary of Prophet Mohammad's companion and son-in-law Imam Ali in Lahore on May 4, 2021. Arif ALI / AFP

Shiite Muslim devotees take part in a procession to commemorate the death anniversary of Prophet Mohammad's companion

Shiite Muslim devotees take part in a procession to commemorate the death anniversary of Prophet Mohammad's companion and son-in-law Imam Ali in Lahore on May 4, 2021. Arif ALI / AFP

Shiite Muslim devotees take part in a procession to commemorate the death anniversary of Prophet Mohammad's companion and son-in-law Imam Ali in Lahore

Shiite Muslim devotees take part in a procession to commemorate the death anniversary of Prophet Mohammad's companion and son-in-law Imam Ali in Lahore on May 4, 2021. Arif ALI / AFP

Shiite Muslim devotees take part in a procession to commemorate the death anniversary of Prophet Mohammad's companion and son-in-law Imam Ali in Lahore

Shiite Muslim devotees take part in a procession to commemorate the death anniversary of Prophet Mohammad's companion and son-in-law Imam Ali in Lahore on May 4, 2021. Arif ALI / AFP

Shiite Muslim devotees take part in a procession to commemorate the death anniversary of Prophet Mohammad's companion and son-in-law Imam Ali in Quetta

In this picture taken on May 4, 2021, Shiite Muslim devotees take part in a procession to commemorate the death anniversary of Prophet Mohammad's companion and son-in-law Imam Ali in Quetta. Banaras KHAN / AFP

Shiite Muslim devotees take part in a procession

Shiite Muslim devotees take part in a procession to commemorate the death anniversary of Prophet Mohammad's companion and son-in-law Imam Ali in Lahore on May 4, 2021. Arif ALI / AFP

Shiite Muslim devotees take part in a procession to commemorate the death anniversary of Prophet Mohammad's companion and son-in-law Imam Ali in Lahore

Shiite Muslim devotees take part in a procession to commemorate the death anniversary of Prophet Mohammad's companion and son-in-law Imam Ali in Lahore on May 4, 2021. Arif ALI / AFP

Shiite Muslim devotees take part in a procession

Shiite Muslim devotees take part in a procession to commemorate the death anniversary of Prophet Mohammad's companion and son-in-law Imam Ali in Lahore on May 4, 2021. Arif ALI / AFP

Shiite Muslim devotees take part in a procession to commemorate the death anniversary of Prophet Mohammad's companion
Shiite Muslim devotees take part in a procession to commemorate the death anniversary of Prophet Mohammad's companion
Shiite Muslim devotees take part in a procession to commemorate the death anniversary of Prophet Mohammad's companion and son-in-law Imam Ali in Lahore
Shiite Muslim devotees take part in a procession to commemorate the death anniversary of Prophet Mohammad's companion and son-in-law Imam Ali in Lahore
Shiite Muslim devotees take part in a procession to commemorate the death anniversary of Prophet Mohammad's companion and son-in-law Imam Ali in Quetta
Shiite Muslim devotees take part in a procession
Shiite Muslim devotees take part in a procession to commemorate the death anniversary of Prophet Mohammad's companion and son-in-law Imam Ali in Lahore
Shiite Muslim devotees take part in a procession
Shiite Muslim devotees take part in a procession to commemorate the death anniversary of Prophet Mohammad's companion
Shiite Muslim devotees take part in a procession to commemorate the death anniversary of Prophet Mohammad's companion and son-in-law Imam Ali in Lahore on May 4, 2021. Arif ALI / AFP
Shiite Muslim devotees take part in a procession to commemorate the death anniversary of Prophet Mohammad's companion
Shiite Muslim devotees take part in a procession to commemorate the death anniversary of Prophet Mohammad's companion and son-in-law Imam Ali in Lahore on May 4, 2021. Arif ALI / AFP
Shiite Muslim devotees take part in a procession to commemorate the death anniversary of Prophet Mohammad's companion and son-in-law Imam Ali in Lahore
Shiite Muslim devotees take part in a procession to commemorate the death anniversary of Prophet Mohammad's companion and son-in-law Imam Ali in Lahore on May 4, 2021. Arif ALI / AFP
Shiite Muslim devotees take part in a procession to commemorate the death anniversary of Prophet Mohammad's companion and son-in-law Imam Ali in Lahore
Shiite Muslim devotees take part in a procession to commemorate the death anniversary of Prophet Mohammad's companion and son-in-law Imam Ali in Lahore on May 4, 2021. Arif ALI / AFP
Shiite Muslim devotees take part in a procession to commemorate the death anniversary of Prophet Mohammad's companion and son-in-law Imam Ali in Quetta
In this picture taken on May 4, 2021, Shiite Muslim devotees take part in a procession to commemorate the death anniversary of Prophet Mohammad's companion and son-in-law Imam Ali in Quetta. Banaras KHAN / AFP
Shiite Muslim devotees take part in a procession
Shiite Muslim devotees take part in a procession to commemorate the death anniversary of Prophet Mohammad's companion and son-in-law Imam Ali in Lahore on May 4, 2021. Arif ALI / AFP
Shiite Muslim devotees take part in a procession to commemorate the death anniversary of Prophet Mohammad's companion and son-in-law Imam Ali in Lahore
Shiite Muslim devotees take part in a procession to commemorate the death anniversary of Prophet Mohammad's companion and son-in-law Imam Ali in Lahore on May 4, 2021. Arif ALI / AFP
Shiite Muslim devotees take part in a procession
Shiite Muslim devotees take part in a procession to commemorate the death anniversary of Prophet Mohammad's companion and son-in-law Imam Ali in Lahore on May 4, 2021. Arif ALI / AFP