ASIA/IRAQ - Request from the Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans to the Head of State for the proclamation of Christmas as a public holiday for all Iraqis

Monday, 19 October 2020 middle east   oriental churches   christmas   politics   discrimination

Baghdad (Agenzia Fides) - A bill to have Christmas Day officially recognized as a public holiday throughout Iraq is the concrete request that the Babylonian Patriarch of the Chaldeans Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako, presented to Iraqi President Barham Salih, who received the Patriarch at the Head of State's residence on Saturday 17 October. During the meeting - official sources of the Chaldean Patriarchate and the Iraqi Presidency report - Iraqi President Barham Salih (a Kurdish engineer who graduated in Great Britain, where he was expatriated at the time of Saddam Hussein's regime) recognized and exalted the role of Christian communities in the reconstruction of the country, reaffirming its commitment to favor in every way the return of displaced Christians to their territories of origin, starting with Mosul and the Nineveh Plain, which they had to abandon during the years of jihadist occupation. The Iraqi Head of State also stressed the urgency of putting an end to the often disguised discrimination that effectively hinders the full and free participation of Iraqi Christians in the country’s political, social and cultural life.
Last year (see Fides, 4/12/2019), Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako himself had given instructions to celebrate Christmas in a sober manner, without convivial public moments, as a sign of closeness to the families of the hundreds of deaths and injuries recorded during the protests and street clashes that in the previous months had shaken the country, and had also occurred after the fall of the government led by Adel Abdel Mahdi. For this reason, the traditional receptions, which saw political and religious authorities go to the headquarters of the Chaldean Patriarchate to exchange greetings with the Patriarch and his collaborators, were also canceled. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 19/10/2020)