Iraqi Christians celebrate Christmas amid tight securityBy DPA, IANS
Saturday, December 25, 2010
BAGHDAD - Iraqi Christians celebrated Christmas quietly Saturday, amid tight security over concerns of sectarian attacks.
Most Christians headed to churches near their homes and businesses to attend services held Saturday morning instead of Christmas Eve for more security.
Leading Shia politician Ammar al-Hakim, head of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, attended the mass held in the Virgin Mary Church in the al-Mansur district of Baghdad.
President Jalal Talabani, meanwhile, congratulated the country’s largest minority group and appealed to “god to reign his blesses of love, fraternity and peace, making the New Year, a year of goodness, blessing and security for all”.
Army and police forces had been deployed around every church in Baghdad, while the Our Lady of Salvation church was also surrounded by cement blocs.
The increased security comes in the wake of an Oct 31 siege on an Assyrian Catholic church in Baghdad’s Karrada neighbourhood that left more than 60 people — mostly worshippers and two priests — dead.
A group affiliated with Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attack. It has threatened Christians throughout the Middle East, saying that they are legitimate targets.