In what may be among the largest marches in history, 20 million Muslims gathered peacefully to commemorate Arbaeen in Iraq. The pilgrimage – witch included Shia and Sunni Muslims alike – ended in Karbala, near ISIS-controlled territory. Just recently, 80 pilgrims to Karbala were killed in an ISIS attack. Despite the risks, millions of peaceful Muslims continued with the pilgrimage, defying ISIS.
Over the past few years – as Iraq forces and Kurdish Peshmerga forces have continued to battle ISIS – the Arbaeen pilgrimage has turned into a form of protest. As one marcher, Umm Al, explained to the Independent:
We ask God to support us against Daesh [Isis] members, to help us liberate Mosul and urge our politicians to remember the people who have sacrificed so much.
The gathering went largely unnoticed by major media outlets, which tend to sensationalize acts of violence in Muslim-majority nations and ignore peaceful displays such as the Arbaeen march.