By Niraj Warikoo
About 5,000 Shia Muslims walked through the streets of Dearborn today in a religious procession to mark a holy day, calling for an end to oppression.
The 10th annual parade and rally in the eastern part of Dearborn mostly consisted of Iraqi-American Shias, who revere Imam Hussain, a 7th century leader killed in battle by an unjust ruler. Arabeen, which means 40th, marks the 40th day after the death of Hussain.
In addition to the procession, thousands of other Shias gathered today in mosques to mark the holiday with special lectures and services. Shias see the day as a time to remember the importance of standing up to oppression.
“This is to support the oppressed people around the world, whether they are Christian or Muslim, Sunni or Shia, Arab or non-Arab,” said Imam Husham Al-Husainy, head of the Karbala Islamic Education Center in Dearborn, who led today’s procession and rally. The walk started at the Karbala Center and ended at Hemlock Park, where Shias gathered to pray and chant praises of Hussain. Tea and some food were served from a makeshift kitchen in the park as worshippers waved large, colorful flags with images of Hussain.
“We want to renew our commitment to God, to the messengers, to the oppressed people,” Al-Husainy said. “We are with them, wherever they are.”
Members at the Shia rally criticized Sunni rulers and extremists in countries like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Yemen, saying they were repressing people, including Shias.
Al-Husainy said there was a “double-standard” in how the U.S. deals with the opposition in Syria compared to the opposition in Bahrain. The U.S. has generally been supportive of Bahrain’s government, but not Syria’s.
“We ask the U.S. government to be fair with the Muslim world…no double-standards,” Al-Husainy said.
He said that supporting justice is in keeping with the message of Moses and Jesus. The U.S. should do “what the Bible taught us, what Moses and the Torah taught us. God taught us to be just and fair.”
Al-Husainy also said he’s “worried about war.”
“We want to stop the war, stop the fighting, stop the killing. We belong to one God, one creator, so why are we so divided?”