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Christmas Celebrations Canceled in Iraq After Deaths of 400 Protesters

Amid show of solidarity by Chaldean patriarch, some Iraqi Christians hope to lead nation to Jonah-like repentance.
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Christmas Celebrations Canceled in Iraq After Deaths of 400 Protesters
Image: Courtesy of National Baptist Church
Pastor Ara Badalian leads members of National Baptist Church in prayer at Baghdad's Tahrir Square.

Distributing food to protesters with 40 fellow church members under the Jumariyah bridge near Tahrir Square in Baghdad, Ara Badalian made a poignant observation.

“This movement is a flood, occupying the hearts of the youth and the poor, without any religious discrimination,” the pastor of National Baptist Church recalled to CT. “It has broken down all the walls that divided Iraqis.”

It is at the bridges—about a dozen span the Tigris River, which bifurcates the Iraqi capital—where most violence has taken place. The protest movement, which began in October, has resulted in more than 400 deaths, around a dozen of them security personnel. Over 17,000 people have been injured.

In response, the Chaldean Catholic Church decided last week to refrain from holding public celebrations of Christmas, trading tree decorations and holiday receptions for prayers of intercession.

“Instead of bringing hope and prosperity, the current government structure has brought ...

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