The head of Iraq’s Chaldean Catholic Church announced on Tuesday that the community would not hold public celebrations of Christmas out of respect for those killed and wounded in recent anti-government protests.
The mass rallies rocking Iraq’s capital and south have been met with violence by security forces and armed groups, leaving nearly 430 dead and 20,000 wounded.
The protests have been concentrated in Shiite Muslim-majority areas, but on Tuesday, a large part of Iraq’s Christian community said it would take part in an act of solidarity.
“There will be no decorated Christmas trees in the churches or streets, no celebrations and no reception at the patriarchate,” announced the head of Iraq’s Chaldean Catholic community, Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako.
Iraq’s Christian minority has been ravaged by years of war, with just a third left out of the 1.5 million Christians living in the country before 2003.
Many are in Baghdad or the northern province of Nineveh.
Sako made the decision “out of respect for the dead and wounded among protesters and security forces, and in solidarity with the pains of their families.”
RELATED: US urges probe of ‘excessive’ use of force in Iraq
As the demonstrations enter their third month, other non-Shiite communities in Iraq have also expressed solidarity.
Sunni-majority Mosul has held funeral marches for those wounded further south and Salahaddin province announced three days of mourning for the fallen.
Hundreds of students also marched in multi-ethnic Kirkuk.
UN envoy urges Iraqi leaders to respond to people’s demands for changeA UN envoy warned on Tuesday that the continued use of violence against civilians in Iraq is “intolerable” and called on Iraqi leaders to ... Middle East
Iraqi police capture ISIS leader Baghdadi’s reported deputy chief in KirkukIraqi security authorities have announced the arrest and capture of a man said to have been the deputy chief to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi ... Middle East
Churches for sale in Iraq spark fears over ‘buried Christian history’In a move described as an insult to Iraq’s history, several churches have been put up for sale to be converted into commercial or residential ... Variety
Pope condemns Iraq’s ‘harsh’ crackdown on protestersPope Francis on Sunday criticized Iraq’s crackdown on anti-government protests, which have led to the deaths of more than 400 people since they ... World News