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     Home > Culture and Society  >  2013-12-23 15:48:12
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Iraqi government declares Christmas a 'national holiday'

December 23, 2013 - In an important move towards the Christian minority of the country, the government of Iraq has recognized Dec. 25 as an official day of celebration and a national holiday for all of the country's citizens. The Iraqi cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki took the decision on Sunday, in response to a request made by Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako, the head of Chaldean Catholic Church in Iraq. The Patriarch had written to the prime minister last week, asking him to make 25 December a "day of rest for all Iraqis." For the patriarch, such a recognition would be a way to acknowledge the value and importance of a community that has for centuries actively contributed to the development of the nation. He explained that "Jesus did not come just for Christians, but for everyone", stressing the "special respect" Muslims "have for Him." In Karrada, a Baghdad neighbourhood on the eastern bank of the Tigris River where Christians, Shias and Sunnis live peacefully together, authorities have already set up a five-metre Christmas tree. As a show of "solidarity", the decision sends a signal meant to curb an exodus that has decimated the Christian community in the past ten years. After the US invasion in 2003, Islamic extremists targeted the Christian minority, killing hundreds of its members, including a bishop, priests, businessmen, doctors, and politicians. Because of this, Christians in their thousands have fled the country over the past ten years, reducing the community from more than two million to less than 300,000.ed, calling for the endorsement of the Prime Minister at the Supreme Court. (Source: AsiaNews)


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