'Karbala’ ballet to relive historic event in Turkey

IZMIR, Turkey (AA) – The ballet ‘Karbala’, after a foundational event in early Islamic history, will have its world premiere in Izmir in Turkey’s southwestern coast on Wednesday.

It is based on the battle of Karbala in the year 680, which resulted in the killing of Hussein, grandson of Prophet Muhammad, and deepened the Sunni-Shia divide following his death in 632.

Choreographer Mehmet Balkan told the Anadolu Agency on Wednesday the team behind the adaptation was aware of Muslim sentiment towards the event.

“We knew it was a knife-edge issue,” Balkan said. “There are many things in history that we are proud of, and many we regret. It is inconceivable for anything to remain veiled in the year 2014.”

Balkan said there was no political agenda to the ballet, stressing the need for original work in Turkish ballet scene.

“There are many lessons we can glean from history. Societies without a past cannot expect to have a future,” he said.

The battle of Karbala greatly exacerbated the Sunni-Shia schism, which occurred shortly after Prophet Muhammad’s death over the choosing of his successor.

It took place in Karbala – in today’s Iraq - between a small group of Prophet Muhammad’s relatives under the command of his grandson Hussein ibn Ali, and a larger military group from the forces of Yazid I, the Umayyad caliph whom Hussein refused to recognize. Hussein was killed in Karbala along with his supporters and his six-month-old son. The event has a central place in Shia Islam and is also observed many Sunnis.

The premiere will be held at 20:00 local time. The performance will be restaged on March 13 and 15.

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