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December 25, 2008

Christmas Is Now An Official Holiday In...Iraq

Um, wow. In a world where outreach between Muslims and others has been more or less a one way street, this is a pretty big gesture.

In his homily on Thursday, Chaldean Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly praised the establishment of Christmas as an official holiday as a step toward easing tensions.

"I thank the government for giving chances to all to serve each other for the general benefit, and I thank it too for making this day an official holiday where we pray to God to make us trust each other as brothers," he said at the Christmas Mass before several dozen worshippers in the small chapel of a Baghdad monastery.

A senior Shiite cleric, Ammar al-Hakim, attended the Mass flanked by bodyguards in a gesture of cooperation with Christians.

"I thank the visitors here and ask them to share happiness and love with their brothers on Christmas; by this they will build a glorious Iraq," the cardinal said.

"We came here to bring a message of love, respect and gratitude to our Christian brothers and to share happiness with them as we have shared sadness with them during the cruel targeting they came under," al-Hakim said in an interview with al-Furat TV. "We will do our best for equality between people and a good life for all, whatever their religious, sectarian and ethnic background."

He is the son and heir-apparent of Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, Iraq's biggest mainstream Shiite party.

Yes, there are still problems and challenges (and don't think for a minute the linked article doesn't joyfully list them) but progress is progress. There are only a couple of hundred thousands of Christians left in Iraq so this seems to be a statement about what kind of country the Iraqis want that is aimed at a wider audience than just Iraqi Christians.

It's almost enough to make you think there's some hope that things might change for the people of Iraq. (See what I did there?)

Gateway Pundit
has more on Iraq's Christmas celebrations.

And while the Iraqis who made this decision deserve the credit, let's never forget who made it possible.

santa iraq.jpg

Santa Claus interacts with boys and girls that participate in the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides clubs on Forward Operating Base Liberty, Iraq, Dec. 20, 2008. U.S. servicemembers, who volunteer to help teach the children team-building skills during their weekly meetings, handed out gifts to celebrate the holiday season.-U.S. Army photo by Spc. Joshua Powell

More photos of Iraqi kids doing the Christmas thing with American soldiers here.

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posted by DrewM. at 02:19 PM

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