New Delhi: More than 25,000 Indian Shia Muslims are on standby to fly to Iraq and defend its holy shrines, one of the country's largest Shia organizations has claimed.
There are more than 50 million Shia Muslims in India whose leaders have close ties to Iran and Iraq, home of their faith's holiest shrines.
These Indian Muslims have filled out forms, complete with passport-size photographs and photocopied identification documents, to travel to Iraq.
Leaders of Anjuman E Haideri, the religious organization spearheading the effort, said they might march to the Iraqi embassy in New Delhi on Friday to deliver the forms.
A Shia cleric is leading the effort and the volunteers want to protect shrines venerated by the sect in Iraq, but the group's leaders say their cause is not sectarian.
Already at the group's headquarters located off Karbala Road in a leafy New Delhi neighbourhood, picket signs of "It's not Shias vs Sunnis (it's) Iraqis vs Terrorists" have been prepared.
India's Shias said they would not stand by while Karbala is attacked again. Their recruits include bankers, students, doctors and engineers and their leaders have written to the Indian government to stress Isis' support for terrorist attacks in India too.