Gatherings held for the religious holiday of Ashura took place in various parts of the country including Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif and Herat on Sunday under tight security, and so far no security incidents related to the holy day were reported.
President Ghani and his deputies, as well as a number of high-ranking officials, attended a ceremony of Ashura mourners at a mosque in the west of Kabul.
During his speech, Ghani called Imam Husain’s path the way of freedom and his uprising legitimate, referring to the early religious figure whose memory is honored on this day.
“Your president goes to places where there are threats to the citizens of this country,” Ghani said, referring to the vulnerability of public gatherings to attacks.
“We are not hidden behind walls.”
“The projects that were implemented to divide us have failed in Afghanistan,” First Vice President Amrullah Saleh said.
Some political figures who attended the Kabul ceremony spoke of the importance of Ashura, and urged unity among the people.
“The movement of Imam Hussain and his message is beyond space or time,” former vice president Mohammad Karim Khalili said.
Thousands of security force members were deployed in Kabul and other cities to ensure the safety of the Ashura ceremonies in over 10,000 mosques in the country, 400 of them in Kabul alone.
“The school of Imam Hussain involves both passion and consciousness,” said Fida Mohammad, a Kabul resident.
At least 3,000 security force members were deployed in Herat to protect Ashura ceremonies, according to local officials.
Those who attended the ceremony in Herat said they hope a ceasefire is announced so that people observe such events in peace.
“We hope that peace and security are established in our country and there is no bloodshed so that we observe such holy days with calm mind,” said Mohammad Daud, a Herat resident.
“The war has heavily affected the people. It is bad for Afghanistan’s future,” said Ghulam Ali, a Herat resident.
Herat officials said some groups sought to disrupt the Ashura ceremony in the province, but were prevented.
“No stranger can think about disturbing or removing you,” Herat governor Sayed Wahid Qatali said at a gathering of Ashura mourners. “Stand with power and we will succeed. All here are Heratis and Afghans together.”
“No incidents occurred as we took good security measures–except we had some thefts,” Herat Police Chief Obaidullah Nawrozi said.