Iranian pilgrims starting back home from Arbaeen pilgrimage

IRNA – Iranian pilgrims have started to come back home from their Arbaeen pilgrimage which had taken them to the city of Karbala in Iraq.

The Chazzabeh border point in the southwestern province of Khuzestan which neighbors Iraq is witnessing an ever increasing number of pilgrims heading home.

Once they cross the border into Iran, they go through necessary border check procedures and then go directly to coaches waiting there in the temporary terminals set on the occasion to travel to their own cities.

Before that, pilgrims get needed medical services and checkups if necessary.

Pilgrims generally express satisfaction over the services and facilities they have got inside Iraq and believe the trip will remain as one of the most memorable moments of their lives.

Talking to IRNA, one of the pilgrims, Hamzeh Ebrahimi, described his visit to the holy shrine of the third Shiite Imam Hussein as very exclusive and said the presence of millions of pilgrims from all over the world there was the outward manifestation of the grave love Muslims have for the martyred Imam.

According to the Police Chief Hossein Ashtari, 2,100,000 pilgrims will arrive into Iranian soil from three border points.

Ashtari told IRNA that the pilgrims leave Iraq for Iran through Mehran border point in Ilam province and Shalamcheh and Chazzabeh borders in Khuzestan province.

Ashtari said the pilgrims had safely crossed the Iran-Iraq borders in the past three weeks.

Over two million Iranians traveled to Karbala in Iraq to take part in mourning ceremonies which were held there on Sunday to mark the 40th day after the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (AS), the third Imam of Shiite Muslims.

Spokesman of the Arbaeen Central Headquarters Hamid-Reza Goudarzi told IRNA on Sunday that within the November 11-20 period, 534,481 pilgrims arrived in Iranian territory via Mehran (Ilam Province) border, 305,260 ones via Shalamcheh and 171,573 others via Chazzabeh.

He said a group of 100,491 pilgrims were also flown to the country within the period.

Iran provided best possible services to the pilgrims during the period.

Head of the Islamic Republic Red Crescent Society (RCS) Seyed Amir Mohsen Ziaie said on Sunday that 60 tons of medicine was distributed among the relief aid headquarters on the way to Karbala in Iraq in days leading to Arbaeen.

Ziaie told IRNA on Sunday that his office had been responsible during the rituals to provide rescue, health and medication and emergency services.

He noted that about 6,500 of its personnel were busy serving the pilgrims in Iran and 2,000 others inside Iraq.

He said about 36 ambulances and three ambulance buses had been used for the purpose in Iraqi territory.

The security has been an issue during the occasion as well.

Police Chief of Khuzestan province Brigadier General Mohammadreza Eshaqi said that over 18,000 police officers have been deployed in the roads leading to Shalamcheh and Chazzabeh borders.

He made the remarks in Shalamcheh border point in Khuzestan province while checking the situation of Iranian pilgrims crossing the border.

Alongside the huge number of pilgrims, many ranking Iranian officials too either travelled to Karbala or visited border crossings.

While inspecting Chazzabeh border spot, Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Reza Salehi Amiri said foreign media are closing eyes to the epic being created by Shia Muslims on the occasion of Arbaeen.

He said a big epic is being formed in this very important region thanks to the presence of the Iranian nation there to take part in the rituals.

However, he regretted, foreign media and press are turning a blind eye to realities.

The minister added this is the day when the whole world has to come to recognize the grandeur of this nation, the land and its geography.

This region belongs to the Shia Imams and the holy religion of Islam with the province having always been known as a cradle of Shia faith, he added.

Salehi Amiri further said the great movement initiated by the Iranian nation towards the mausoleum of Imam Hussein (AS) is a true asset for sustaining cultural life of the Iranian society.

The minister urged people of media and culture from all over the country to produce pieces on the ongoing epic and represent it to the world through artistic channels.

600 reporters and cameramen from all over the world covered live the Arbaeen mourning ceremonye held in the Iraqi city of Karbala on November 20.

According to Mohammad-Ali Anousheh, director of the Information Committee on Arbaeen, several websites provided news and information about the major religious event.

Reporters from Iran, Lebanon, Turkey, Kuwait, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Britain, Azerbaijan and the US were sent to Iraq to cover the Arbaeen ceremony, the official added.