New Born Baby mattam Day of Ashura Is it Right
Muslim children as young as six are still being allowed to beat themselves with knives on the end of chains. It is illegal, yet the police are not keen to prosecute. Would other religions get away with it?
It was supposed to be a routine doctor’s appointment. Mrs Abbas wanted someone at a hospital in north London to take a look at the rash under her son’s arms. But when the doctor asked 14-year-old Firoz to take off his shirt, he noticed something far more worrying. Criss-crossed on Firoz’s back were more than 50 lacerations. The doctor asked for an explanation. Mrs Abbas said that Firoz had inflicted the wounds himself during a religious ceremony; there was nothing to worry about. The doctor called in the child protection agency.
Through interviewing the family, a joint police and social services investigation team found that Firoz had made the lacerations by whipping himself with a zanjeer – a long chain with a set of curved knives attached at the end – as part of a flagellation ritual at the Idara-e-Jaaferiya mosque in Tooting, an area of Wandsworth, south London. The ritual, known as “zanjeer zani” or “zanjeer matam”, was part of the Shia Muslim festival of Ashura, marked at the mosque every year.