Christmas Becomes a Holiday in Iraq
A pretty amazing gesture from the Iraqi government to the country’s Christians: For first time, Christmas official holiday in Iraq.
BAGHDAD — Iraq’s Christians, a scant minority in this overwhelmingly Muslim country, quietly celebrated Christmas on Thursday with a present from the government, which declared it an official holiday for the first time.
(Hat tip: Lawhawk.)
But many Christians in Iraq remain under constant threat from omnipresent Islamic militias: At Christmas, Iraq Christians eye uncertain future UK.
Christians, who with Yazidis, Shabaks and others make up Iraq’s fragile minorities, marked perhaps their safest Christmas since 2003 on Thursday, but many still talk of a precarious future in a nation at risk of backsliding into civil war.
Iraqi Christians, believed to number around 750,000, have been targeted like others in Iraq’s 28-million, mainly Muslim population by the horrific violence since the 2003 invasion. Their plight often gains heightened attention in the West. Reliable figures are hard to find on how many Christians are among the millions who have fled the country, but some Christian leaders warn of a threat to the existence for their community.
A series of high-profile attacks against Christians in the northern city of Mosul this fall prompted the flight of thousands of families and fuelled a fear of being singled out.
“Christians have no political ambitions and they don’t have militias to defend themselves. They are peaceful people,” Thaier al-Sheikh, the pastor of the Sacred Heart church, said as he sipped tea in his rectory.