Skip to comments.Iraqi churches cancel Christmas festivities
Posted on 12/22/2010 6:42:51 PM PST by george76
Iraqi Christians on Wednesday called off Christmas festivities across the country as al-Qaida insurgents threatened more attacks on a beleaguered community still terrified from a bloody siege at a Baghdad church two months earlier.
A council representing Christian denominations across Iraq advised its followers to cancel public Christmas celebrations out of concern over new terror attacks and as a show of mourning for the victims of the church siege and other violence.
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So Iraq is now WORSE for Christians than before we went in???
I already posted before Why not send a contingent of Marines in to each church to guard Midnite Mass?
Or helicoptors pretending they are 2010 Stars of Bethlehlm?
Yep. I don’t know how many stories I’ve read in the past 2 years about Christians and Christian churches being the brunt of persecution.
From what locals have said, it appears that the Iraq was has caused all of this. They were actually safer under Saddam.
Oliver Cromwell would be so proud.
Not much difference between black clad puritans and burka clad Moslems when it comes to suppressing Christmas.
In the end, we may lose Iraq entirely to Muslim extremists. At a minimum, religious minorities, Christian, Bahai, etc. all will be driven out. It was a waste of US military lives and billions of dollars, and it all started with Bush Sr. wanting to help Kuwait, another Muslim land ruled by a wealthy and corrupt family. Then Bush Jr. just had to retaliate against Hussein for attempting to assassinate Bush Sr.
On Tuesday, al-Qaida insurgents threatened more attacks on Iraq's beleaguered Christians, many of whom have fled their homes or the country since the church attack. A council representing Christian denominations across Iraq advised its followers to cancel public celebrations of Christmas out of concern for their lives and as a show of mourning for the victims. "Nobody can ignore the threats of al-Qaida against Iraqi Christians," said Chaldean Archbishop Louis Sako in Kirkuk. "We cannot find a single source of joy that makes us celebrate. The situation of the Christians is bleak."
Church officials in Baghdad, as well as in the northern cities of Kirkuk and Mosul and the southern city of Basra, said they will not put up Christmas decorations or celebrate midnight Mass. They urged worshippers not to decorate their homes. Even an appearance by Santa Claus was called off. "It's to avoid any attacks, but also to show that people are sad, not happy," said Younadim Kanna, a Christian lawmaker from Baghdad. Even before the Oct. 31 church attack, thousands of Christians were fleeing Iraq. They make up more than a third of the 53,700 Iraqis resettled in the United States since 2007, according to State Department statistics.
Since the church attack, some 1,000 families have fled to Iraq's safer Kurdish-ruled north, according to the United Nations, which recently warned of a steady exodus of Iraqi Christians. The latest threats were posted late Tuesday by the Islamic State of Iraq, an al-Qaida front group, on a website frequented by Islamic extremists. The group said it wants the release of two women it claims are being held captive by Egypt's Coptic Church.
Muslim extremists in Egypt accuse the Coptic Church of detaining the women for allegedly converting to Islam, an accusation the church denies. The message posted Tuesday was addressed to Iraq's Christian community and said it was designed to "pressure" Egypt. Few reliable statistics exist on the number of Christians remaining in this nation of 29 million. A recent State Department report says Christian leaders estimate there are 400,000 to 600,000, down from a prewar level of some 1.4 million. For those who remain, Christmas will be a somber affair. In the northern city of Kirkuk, 180 miles (290 kilometers) north of Baghdad, Sako said there will be no Christmas decorations outside churches and a traditional visit by Santa Claus has also been called off. Money usually used on celebrations or gifts will instead go to help Christian refugees.
Ashour Binyamin, a 55-year-old Christian from Kirkuk said he and his family would not go to church on Christmas and would celebrate at home. At Baghdad's Our Lady of Salvation Church, where more than 120 parishioners were held hostage by gunmen during the four-hour siege, all Christmas Masses have been canceled. Only a modest manger display will mark the occasion. "We have canceled all celebrations in the church," said Father Mukhlis. "We are still in deep sorrow over the innocent victims who fell during the evil attack." In Baghdad's Karradah neighborhood, where many of the city's remaining Christians live, churches were guarded by security forces Wednesday and surrounded by razor wire. Shop owners said few people were buying the Christmas trees and Santa Claus toys on sale.
Ikhlas Bahnam, a Christian in the neighborhood, vowed to go to Mass on Christmas Day, despite what she called the government's failure to protect her small minority. But she won't be visiting friends during the holiday season because all of them have fled the city. "We did not put any decorations inside or outside our house this year," Bahnam said. "We see no reason to celebrate." In Mosul, 225 miles (360 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad, the Rev. Faiz Wadee, a Syrian Orthodox priest, said there will be no public Christmas celebrations there.
And Christians in Iraq's second-largest city of Basra have also called off all celebrations, said Saad Matti, a Christian legislator on the Basra provincial council. "There will be only a small Mass in one church in Basra without any signs of joy or decoration and under the protection of Iraqi security forces," he said. "We are fully aware of al-Qaida threats." Matti said Christians were also toning down their celebrations out of respect for a Shiite holiday going on at the same time. The majority of Iraqis are Shiite Muslims, especially in the south.
Even among Iraqi Christians who've managed to escape the violence, the mood was subdued. Maher Murqous, a Christian from Mosul who fled to neighboring Syria after being threatened by militants, said his relatives are still at risk in Iraq, and since they cannot celebrate, neither will he. "We will pray for the sake of Iraq. That's all we can do," he said from his home in Damascus. Yacoub reported from Amman, Jordan. Associated Press writers Sinan Salaheddin and Rebecca Santana in Baghdad and Albert Aji in Damascus, Syria, contributed to this report.
People walk past a street vendor selling Christmas decorations in downtown Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010. Church officials in Iraq say they have canceled some Christmas festivities in two northern cities over fears of insurgent attacks.
An Iraqi police officer stands guard outside a closed church in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010. Church officials in Iraq say they have canceled some Christmas festivities in two northern cities over fears of insurgent attacks.
A boy walks past a shop selling Santa Claus items and Christmas decorations in downtown Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010. Church officials in Iraq say they have canceled some Christmas festivities in two northern cities over fears of insurgent attacks.