Christmas is now an official holiday in Iraq

This just goes to show how far we truly have come:

Iraq’s Christians, a scant minority in this overwhelmingly Muslim country, quietly celebrated Christmas on Thursday with a present from the government, which declared it an official holiday for the first time.

… 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.

Iraq’s Christians, estimated to number only a few hundred thousand of the country’s 26 million people, have often been the target of attacks by Islamic extremists in Iraq. Tens of thousands have fled; many of those who stayed were isolated in neighborhoods protected by barricades and checkpoints.

If that story doesn’t make you smile, you’ve got a heart of stone.

This is just another example of how very far we have come in Iraq. There are still obstacle to overcome and challenges to defeat, but we’re getting there. Ten years ago, would anyone have ever thought for a second that Christians could celebrate Christmas freely in Iraq? Iraq has gone from a dictatorship where Christians were routinely persecuted to a country that is making a public statement about the kind of country they want to be: a free country, where people of all faiths can live and be free.

And just think, liberals opposed it all.

There are tons of great photos of Iraqi children at FOB Liberty celebrating Christmas with Santa Claus here.

Hat Tip: DrewM at Ace of Spades

Cross-posted from Cassy’s blog. Stop by for more original commentary, or feel free to follow her on Twitter!

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