Through the Looking Glass: Ashura, A Muslim Blood Festival?
Posted Mar 23, 2006

J. Grant Swank published an article which expressed shock at the Shia celebration of Ashura and the associated practice of self-flaggelation and called it a “Muslim blood festival”.  In this article he made the following false comparison between Islam and Christianity based on this custom:

“Once again we are reminded of the killing cult named “Islam.” We are shown worldwide photo coverage of the devilment going on in the name of “god.” It is so sad to realize that millions are brainwashed into this cult. As the hellish cult moves into non-Muslim countries, it takes with it these “celebrations” from The Pit.  Christianity lifts up the Savior as our sinless sacrifice upon the cross. There he satisfied eternity’s justice with his holy offering in our place. Then He rose again from the dead on the first day of the week.  His followers however are never called upon to spill their own blood, to break skin, to torture our children. We learn from the Bible that our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit, to be cared for the best we can. We do not harm them purposefully. We do not cut them with sword blades. We do not teach our children to mutilate their flesh in the name of Christ.  Such is the contrast between Islam and Christianity. Of course, there are many other sharp contrasts.”

He must not have heard of the Penitentes of New Mexico and the American Southwest, or the flagellants, or mortification of the flesh, or the penitential rite held every seven years in Guardia, Italy, or the Holy Week self-flaggelation and even crucifixion rituals in the Philippines, or even hair shirts and other forms of physical penance.

As Wikipedia points out “Modern processions of hooded flagellants are still a feature of various mediterranean Catholic countries, mainly in Spain, Portugal and Italy and some former colonies, usually every year during Lent.”