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The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Christmas tree erected in Baghdad to celebrate country's diversity

Many Iraqi Christians have fled the country, following persecution [Getty Images]

Date of publication: 23 December, 2020

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Three years after the defeat of the Islamic State and to celebrate religious diversity in Iraq, a huge Christmas tree has been erected in Baghdad.
Iraq's largest Christmas tree has gone up in the capital's Al-Zaura theme park to celebrate Christmas and the three-year anniversary of the defeat of the Islamic State (IS) group.

The tree, originally a Christian tradition, was installed to celebrate diversity, as the country's Christian community has steadily dwindled since the 2003 US-led invasion.

Christians of Iraq are considered one of the oldest communities in the country.

They have been targeted by Islamic extremists on several occasions and have fled the country for better economic opportunities.

The Islamic State group's reign of terror led to the displacement of 90% of Orthodox Christians and had also dwindled following the US-led invasion.

Louis Raphael Sako, head of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Baghdad said that "the return of Christians depends on Iraqis and the government, but also on the Muslims."

Iraq is home to various Christian sects, including Assyrians and Chaldeans.

Meanwhile, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis plans to visit Iraq in March next year - a risky trip that has eluded his predecessors.

Read more: What will a Biden presidency mean for Iraq?

Pope Francis had hoped to visit the city of Ur, the birthplace of Prophet Abraham, father of all three of monotheistic, or Abrahamic, religions – Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.


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