No Christmas decorations in Iraq in solidarity with protesters

epa08059386 Iraqi protesters walk next to a Christmas tree decorated with the pictures of protesters who were killed during the ongoing protests, at the Al Tahrir square in central Baghdad, Iraq, 10 December 2019. Protests continue in Baghdad and southern Iraqi cities since October 2019 with rising casualties of more than 260 people, while protesters are calling for the resignation of all senior officials in the country after Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi stepped down. EPA-EFE/AHMED JALIL

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Leaders of Iraq’s Christians unanimously cancelled Christmas-related celebrations in solidarity with the protest movement — but the aims of their stance go deeper than tinsel and fairy lights.

Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako, patriarch of the Chaldean Church in Iraq, said in an interview with AP that “morally and spiritually we cannot celebrate in such an atmosphere of tension … it’s not normal to celebrate our joy and happiness while others are dying. That doesn’t work.”

Protests in Baghdad
 Iraqi protesters walk next to a Christmas tree decorated with the pictures of protesters who were killed during the ongoing protests, at the Al Tahrir square in central Baghdad, Iraq. Protests continue in Baghdad and southern Iraqi cities since October 2019 with rising casualties of more than 260 people, while protesters are calling for the resignation of all senior officials in the country after Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi stepped down. EPA-EFE/AHMED JALIL

He called on the government and parliament to listen to the demands of the protesters and to find suitable solutions through dialogue. “The military solution is bad,” he said.

Under the order of the church, holiday celebrations will be limited to prayers, and money budgeted for expensive street decorations and festivities for the community will be donated to funds supporting wounded protesters, Sako said.

Christmas decorations were forbidden within the fine interiors of Baghdad’s Chaldean Patriarchate.

“We will have no other celebration, we cannot make a big feast when our country is a in a critical situation,” he added.

Via AP

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