News - Afghanistan
Second Vice President Mohammad Karim Khalili asked the mourners of Ashura to donate their blood to hospitals, observing that the same blood they were losing by self-flagellation could save lives.
"I request those who mourn at Ashura time to donate their blood under the process of blood donation, instead of flagellating and losing their blood at mosques, Tekias, and on the roads, so that they could save a life of their people besides donating their blood for the love of Imam Husain," said Khalili.
Khalili made the comment during a speech at a gathering for the holy day of Ashura, saying he and President Hamid Karzai had donated blood.
"By donating blood we could save the life of those who are threatened. There are many ill or sick people who are not able to buy blood and death threatens them. There should be blood donated for those people," he added.
Shiite Muslims mark Ashura – the commemoration of the death of a grandson of the prophet Mohammed Imam Hussein – by wearing black as well as engaging in public, bloody self-flagellation processions. Hussein was killed by armies of the caliph Yazid in 680 AD.
Several government officials and lawmakers publicly gave blood in a bid to encourage more people to do the same.
The Minister of Public Health Suraya Dalil reassured that there was no danger in donating blood and it should become a part of Islamic culture.
"We want blood donation to be a culture in Afghanistan, done voluntarily and beyond Muharram [the month of Ashura], in different times of the year," Dalil said.
She said that inside every a healthy body, blood is regularly produced and so can be replaced: every healthy person can easily donate 500cc (half a litre) of blood.
The culture of donating blood in Muharram days has become common in Kabul and other parts of the country over the past few years, according to Dalil, with more volunteering for it each year.
Fifty percent of the blood banks in the country are supplied by blood donated by volunteers, she added.