2016 / Editorial / Photo Essay

The Tenth Day

  • Photographer
    Raffaele Tuzio

This reportage was shot in october 2015 during the commemorations of Ashura in Tehran, particularly in the popular districts of the south-west of the capital that spreads around Imamzade Abdullah street. The objective was to investigate the relationship of the population with one of the most important commemoration of the Shi'a world away from big official gatherings. The Ashura (the tenth day literally) commemorates the martyrdom of the third prophet Husayn in the plain of Karbala (today's Iraq) by Umayyad tribe, occurrence that marks the schism from Sunni Islamism. Generally Western iconography is focusing on the Ashura rituals of self-flagellation giving an idea of fanaticism and cultural backwardness. In fact the practice of self-flagellation have been banned in Iran, and the commemorations of the martyrdom occur only with representations and simulations. The underlying sense of the event, especially in Iran, is to strengthen the bonds of the community under the sign of injustice and persecution received. This feeling manifests itself in popular neighborhoods with both processions and ceremonies which put on stage the historical event, either miming flagellation and expressing grief and sorrow, both with the distribution of free meals organized by mosques, but also by individual families, in a sign of support and solidarity. It is also frequent to note, around banquets arranged for refreshment the faithful, the presence of posters with images of the fallen of the Iraq-Iran war, another chapter of the tormented history of the country.