12/17/2020 Iraq (International Christian Concern) – A bill for Iraq to formally recognize Christmas as a national holiday has unanimously passed parliament. Previously Christmas had been declared as “once-only” holidays, but this bill would make recognition permanent. The decision was reached just days after the Pope announced plans to travel to Iraq from March 5-8 next year.
This is an important step, as it is common worldwide for persecution incidents targeting Christians to increase during the Christmas and Easter season. Government recognition of these holidays as legitimate messages that the local Christian presence is also legitimate. However, it is important to not stop here.
Iraq’s Christian community have suffered decades of violent persecution and genocide, including the more recent 2014 genocide committed by ISIS against Christians. Although three years have passed since Iraq declared ISIS militarily defeated, many of the underlying issues which gave rise to that genocide continue unaddressed. This problem is compounded by new challenges which developed regarding the return of victims to their homeland. This combination has forced many Christians to permanently leave the country.
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