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The sacred city of Karbala, known as the heart of Shia Islam, was filled with the spirit of unity and devotion as over 1800 volunteers gathered to honor Imam Husain by performing the noble act of cleaning and maintaining the holy site. This collective act of service took place on the day of Ashura, which commemorates the martyrdom of Imam Husain (peace be upon him), a pivotal event that continues to inspire and guide Shia Muslims worldwide.

The municipality of Karbala, recognizing the significance of this occasion, mobilized its technical and engineering resources to implement a comprehensive service plan. This initiative aimed not only to receive the incoming pilgrims but also to preserve the sanctity of the Husaini ceremonies and rituals.

Engineer Hassan Mohammad Ali Al-Sharifi, the director of the Karbala municipality, detailed the plan in a press release followed by Shia Waves. The municipality prepared all its facilities for the implementation of the plan, and they deployed over 500 specialized heavy machines for the cause.

The city of Karbala holds profound significance in the hearts of Shia Muslims. It is here that the Battle of Karbala took place in the 7th century, resulting in the martyrdom of Imam Husain, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). This event stands as a symbol of sacrifice, resistance against injustice, and the quest for truth and righteousness. Today, millions of pilgrims from around the world travel to Karbala to honor Imam Husain's legacy, particularly during the mourning period of Muharram and on the Day of Ashura.

"The actions taken by the volunteers and the municipality of Karbala represent the essence of what Ashura is about: selflessness, service, and unity," said a spokesperson for the Shia Muslim Foundation (SMF). "The holy city of Karbala, with its rich historical and spiritual legacy, continues to inspire acts of devotion and community service in the modern age."

The SMF also praised the municipality's efforts in maintaining the holy city's cleanliness and infrastructure. "Such initiatives reflect the inherent spirit of respect and devotion towards our holy sites. They play a vital role in preserving our religious heritage, ensuring that future generations can continue to learn from and be inspired by the lessons of Karbala," the SMF spokesperson added.

As the Day of Ashura marked a time of deep reflection and community service, the collective actions of the municipality and volunteers illuminated the enduring relevance of the lessons from Karbala. Their commitment to the upkeep of the holy city serves as a testament to the living legacy of Imam Husain (peace be upon him) and the values that continue to guide Shia Muslims around the world.

A graph from the Brittish government depicting the rise of hate crimes over time

In a deeply concerning trend, instances of anti-Muslim hate crimes have more than doubled in a decade, according to an in-depth study conducted by Tell Mama, a UK group that monitors and combats anti-Muslim sentiment and abuse. The Shia Muslim Foundation (SMF), an organization dedicated to fostering interfaith dialogue and understanding, wishes to emphasize the gravity of this study's findings and the dire need for societies worldwide to actively counter such hate.

Tell Mama reported that verified cases of anti-Muslim hate have surged from 584 in 2012 to a disturbing 1,212 cases in 2021. While increased visibility of the organization and a higher willingness among victims to report such incidents could partially account for this rise, the study's authors point out that it may also indicate an actual growth in anti-Muslim hate incidents. This is a chilling reminder for all of us that Islamophobia continues to be a deeply rooted issue, meriting urgent attention and action.

SMF echoes Tell Mama's hope that this data will inspire others to focus on this issue. Anti-Muslim hate is a global problem that needs to be confronted through collective effort, peaceful challenge, and consistent monitoring. The rise of such incidents impedes the progress towards social cohesion, a goal that SMF is deeply committed to fostering.

Tell Mama highlights several factors behind the uptick in hate crimes, including the activities of far-right groups, global anti-Muslim attacks, and the socio-political climate, notably Brexit and the activities of so-called Islamic State. It also brings attention to specific incidents like the "Punish a Muslim" campaign in 2018 and the spillover of the Israel-Palestine conflict into anti-Muslim hate cases.

As an organization that believes in the power of dialogue and understanding, SMF invites individuals, communities, and governments to join in the effort to mitigate Islamophobia and foster an environment of mutual respect and understanding. The statistics presented by Tell Mama underline the urgency of this mission. The fight against Islamophobia is not just a struggle of the Muslim community but an endeavor where everyone has a role to play.

The SMF stands firm in its commitment to helping Muslims across the globe, particularly in the West, navigate the challenges they face. It is more important than ever for institutions, governments, and individuals to recognize the reality of anti-Muslim hate and actively work towards eliminating it. Only through such collective action can we build a society where social cohesion, tolerance, and mutual respect are the norm, not the exception.

Washington, D.C., July 25, 2023 - The Shia Muslim Foundation (SMF) is proud to announce that one of our distinguished interns participated in a significant diversity initiative organized by the US State Department - the DC Muslim Intern Roundtable. This pioneering event was attended by 47 motivated interns from various academic disciplines and aimed to spark enlightening discussions about multiple career pathways leading to governmental roles.

The roundtable served as a key platform for the participants, including our SMF intern, to interact directly with top-tier government officials, diplomats, and policy advisors. Engaging dialogues around the recruitment intricacies within the government and State Department unfolded, covering a wide spectrum of opportunities from internships and fellowships to civil service and foreign service positions.

Underscoring the need for diversity in policy shaping, the event emphasized the role of underrepresented communities in public service careers. Moreover, the roundtable discussions stressed cultural awareness, religious accommodations, and the fostering of an inclusive work environment within the government. The SMF values these principles and stands by the belief that every individual's unique perspective is a crucial asset in enhancing diplomatic efforts.

The profound impact this event left on our intern and all attendees will serve as a robust foundation in their pursuit of educational and career goals. The lessons and connections garnered at the DC Muslim Intern Roundtable are expected to play a pivotal role in shaping a more inclusive, diverse, and representative government for all Americans.

The SMF, committed to promoting community engagement, interfaith dialogue, and mutual understanding, applauds the efforts of the State Department in launching this initiative. We are thrilled to see our intern partake in such a meaningful event and continue to encourage the participation of Shia Muslims in similar initiatives.

For more information about SMF and our programs, visit

**About Shia Muslim Foundation (SMF):**

SMF is a non-profit organization committed to supporting initiatives promoting interfaith dialogue, community engagement, and mutual understanding among diverse communities. Our mission is to foster an environment that encourages religious harmony, peacebuilding, and empowerment of Shia Muslims in the US and worldwide.

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