This year, ordinary people were not the only Iranian participants in the Arbaeen pilgrimage. According to Ettelaat newspaper, Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri and the new Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs Masoud Soltanifar joined the pilgrims walking the distance between Najaf and Karbala.
The moderate center-right newspaper Jomhouri-e-Eslami reported, “[About] 1,400 years have passed since the Ashura incident [when Imam Hussein was killed], but this year, once again, an enormous number of people from across the world went to Karbala on foot to pledge allegiance to Imam Hussein.” The daily also stressed the hospitality of Iraqis and the success of security forces in keeping Karbala safe.
Under the headline “Western, Hebrew, Arabic Media Censorship of the Greatest Incident of History,” the conservative Kayhan daily criticized the mainstream media for not providing “proper coverage” of Arbaeen. In this vein, the conservative Javan daily echoed the same sentiment with the headline “Boycott of Arbaeen: Western and Arabic media don’t see 20 million pilgrims.”
Meanwhile, a social media campaign, using the hashtag #thanksarbaeenhosts, has been organized by the government-sanctioned Karbobala website to show the gratitude of Iranians toward their Iraqi hosts. Using the hashtag, Iranians have posted videos and photos of Iraqis providing food, medical support and help to visiting Shiite pilgrims.