Christmas in Baghdad hasn’t been a merry time in quite a number of years. Throughout the US occupation Iraqi Christians have been targeted regularly for having at least a nominally similar religious to the invading forces and most Christmas celebrations have been subdued, to say the least.
This year however, Christmas is pretty much canceled. With violence against Baghdad’s Christian community soaring to new heights and large numbers of the community fleeing into refugee status in Europe and Syria, all but one church has canceled their celebrations, and plan to remain closed for Christmas
Which may be a prudent move, unfortunately. In Iraq sectarian attacks have regularly centered around religious holidays, with Shi’ite pilgrims getting hit en masse during almost every major Shi’ite holiday in the past several years. Christmas, the really identifiable Christian holiday in a nation with an ancient, but dwindling, Christian community, is likely to be a popular time to attack.
Given the number of high profile killings and complaints that the Iraqi government seems disinterested in protecting them, this Christmas will be a grim one for Iraqis indeed. But at the rate they are fleeing the country, it may be one of the last ones marked at all.