While you weren’t looking, Muslims gathered in Washington D.C. for an anti-terrorism rally

Hundreds of Shiite Muslims have turned out in Washington D.C. for an annual spiritual ritual event which developed into an anti-terrorism rally this Sunday

A sea of black-clad Shiite Muslims marched down Connecticut Avenue while singing and praying for hours from DuPont Circle to the White House. Mostly from the D.C. region, the Muslim-Americans waved banners with the name of their spiritual forefather, Imam Hussein, and pounded their chests with their fists simultaneously as an expression of mourning.

Hussein’s martyrdom, 1,400 years ago, is a major part of the Shiite’s faith and it is a defining event in the break between Shiite and Sunni Muslim. A few days ago, more than 22 million Shiites and others visited the Iraqi city of Karbala in a pilgrimage to the place where he died.

In this year’s event, participants — including head-covered women, young children and hipsters with man buns on hover boards — held signs condemning terrorism and the Islamic State while handing out hot chocolate and doughnuts in an effort to open conversations with passersby.

American Muslim groups and prominent U.S. Muslims have been making extra public efforts since the recent terrorism-related killings in San Bernardino, Calif., to speak out against the Islamic State and other radical Islamists.

“What’s happening now is we feel even more compelled to come out of our homes,” said Zehra Raza, who is an electrical engineer from Alexandria, Va. and was at the rally with her husband.

The event drew less Muslims than in years past due in part to the fear of being harassed or targeted with violence. Such incidents have been on the rise, according to The Washington Post and many police officers were on hand, despite no obvious protests against the rally.

“Some [Muslims] were afraid, but I think this is the perfect time to come out and stand with people who are oppressed. ISIS is the same as what Hussein was fighting 1,400 years ago,” Raza said.

Featured image via Twitter

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