14. Christians in Iraq spend Christmas without any celebrations

Article summary: 

Christians in Mosul remain exposed to threats from the armed groups there. Due to the continuous explosions and threats against the citizens and churches, the church has urged Christians to keep their celebrations low-profile over Christmas.

Article full text: 

Christians in Iraq commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ today, but sorrow and anxiety are the overriding sentiments due to the repeated attacks against them over the last few weeks, especially in Mosul.
Moreover, a Christian man who refused to mention his name stated to Al-Sharq al-Awsat claimed that there have been instructions issued by the central church not to manifest any religious festivals to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ and to only pray and practice their religious rituals inside churches or even at home. These instructions came after the church received information of certain threats against churches. This is in stark contrast to the huge celebrations and festivals the Christians there used to hold during their feasts.
On one hand Pascal Wardah, an activist in the field of human rights, stressed to the German News Agency that the state of security nowadays is much more stable and that the Christians will be able to celebrate their feast more than they could ten years ago. Still, she stresses that Christians are still a target for armed groups, especially in Mosul, where a number of churches have been targeted. Wardah adds that an aggressive atmosphere and pressure still surround Christians in Mosul; citizens and churches there are in great need of protection by the security forces. As a result, the Iraqi authorities have taken strict security measures near all churches and monasteries in order to protect Christians and provide them for an opportunity to celebrate their feast.
On the other hand, Christians in Mosul described the celebrating festivals this year as the worst since the invasion of Iraq in 2003 as stated in the French News Agency. The killings, threats, and explosions have all turned their life into hell.
In spite of the strict security proceedings, Saint Thomas Syriac Orthodox Church in the middle of the city of Mosul was exposed to an explosion the day before yesterday morning resulting in killing two persons and the injury of another six.

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