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Iraq's Christians plan quiet Christmas, hope to avoid violence

Catholic World News - December 23, 2010

Christian leaders in Iraq are scaling back on their plans for Christmas celebrations, fearful of new violence against the country’s Christian minority.

In Baghdad, Kirkuk, Mosul, and Basra, Church officials announced that they will forego traditional decorations and cancel midnight Mass. Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk explained that nighttime Masses had been re-scheduled for the morning of Christmas Day “after myself and 10 other Christian people” received threats from a local Al Qaida affiliate.

With the campaign of violence against Iraq’s religious minority continuing, an estimated 1,000 Christian families have recently fled from Baghdad for safety elsewhere. The US State Department estimates that the Christian population of Iraq today is somewhere around 500,000—down from nearly three times that number before the war.

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