Ashura Festival in Athens Climaxes with Bloody Self-Flagellation

Hundreds of Shia Muslims gathered in Piraeus, south of Athens, to mark the day of Ashura, the tenth day of in the Islamic calendar.

The ritual involved self-flagellation, hitting oneself with a whip as part of a religious ritual, as is common in many Muslim countries.

Believers in Greece slashed themselves and lashed their backs as part of a rite that takes place every year.

Some Shia leaders and groups discourage the bloodletting, saying it creates a backward and negative image of Shia Muslims. Such leaders encourage people to donate blood

The day of Ashura is marked by Muslims as a whole, but for Shia Muslims it is a major religious commemoration of the martyrdom at Karbala of Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad.