London, Aug 19 : In a first of its kind, involving the religious practices of Shia Muslims, a case of flagellation was brought to trial in Britain against a devout Muslim.
According to the Times, during the traditional Ashura festival, celebrated by the Shias, Syed Mustafa Zaidi, 44 after flogging himself, forced two boys, aged 15 and 13, to join in the annual flogging ceremony that took place last January at a community mosque in Levenshulme, Manchester. The boys were left with bloody cuts across their backs.
The festival involves a ritual act of lamentation commemorating the slaughter of Husayn, the Prophet Muhammad's grandson, and his followers in the 14th century.
Shia Muslims flog themselves with a zanjeer zani, an implement with a wooden handle and five chains attached to sharp knives. The men whip themselves to recreate the suffering of the martyrs.
Andrew Nuttall, QC, for the prosecution, told the jury that Zaidi was part of a congregation which had been warned by a community leader that children under the age of 16 were too young to participate in the flagellation.
However, two days later he was one among a number of men who took part in the flogging, using "considerable force upon himself and causing others to fear for his safety".
When others intervened to stop him, he turned to the older boy and asked him to do it as well.
But, on being arrested Zaidi told detectives that the boys had been willing participants in the flogging ceremony.