Iraq Gives Christians a Gift

What's left of them, at least
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 25, 2018 11:42 AM CST
Middle East Leaders Make Christmas a Holiday
An Iraqi Christian soldier from Nineveh Plain Protection Unit sets a cross on top of the St. Addai Chaldean Catholic church near Mosul, Iraq, Sunday Nov. 13, 2016.   (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

For Iraqi Christians, it's a moment to enjoy: The government has made Christmas a national holiday, CNN reports. "Happy Christmas to our Christian citizens, all Iraqis and to all who are celebrating around the world," the government tweeted. The move marks an apparent respite for Iraqi Christians, whose numbers have dwindled: Once around 1.5 million, their population fell to 400,000 after the US-led invasion of 2003 and the rise of ISIS in 2014. "Of course we can say the security situation is better than in previous years," a church leader tells Reuters. "We enjoy security and stability mainly in Baghdad." In addition, he says, ISIS "was beaten." (Meanwhile, Vice President Pence took heat for choosing a "Christian rabbi.")

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