On Christmas Eve, the Iraqi people braved the attempts of the Islamic State to sabotage the holy festival of Christmas, and all over Iraq, celebrated the special Midnight Mass in Churches across the country.
His Holiness Pope Francis, also sent a special message of solidarity to Iraq’s displaced Christians and on Christmas Day, thousands of children woke up, to Christmas gifts which had been sent to them, from both the Iraqi people and aid agencies.
In Baghdad, both Shiite and Sunni Muslims joined in the celebrations but more importantly showed their support to Iraqi Christians, through attendance at Church and also by donating toys, clothing and food, to those whose lives have been irreparably damaged by the Islamic State.
But threats from ISIS did not stop the celebrations in a country, where Christianity has more in common with its people, than those fighting for the Jihadist organisation, and across Iraq, beautifully decorated tree’s were proudly displayed in public spaces, shopping malls and in the homes of thousands.
Around the world people also joined in and showed their support to the Iraqi people, where in Churches and homes across Europe and the United States, thoughts and deeds were given, in the form of both prayer and donations to charities like Aid to the Church in Need.
Thinking Of Your Fellow Man
It was also at the front of many people’s minds, the other work that was taking place over the Christmas day period, where organisations were showing the true face of Christmas, with charities like Combat Stress and Blind Veterans UK, providing a festive sanctuary to Veterans, whose lives have been affected by mental health conditions and visual impairment.
Even the Royal National Lifeboat Institute was on call, on Christmas Day, where the lifeguards and lifeboat crews, braving the bitter winter cold on Britain’s coastal regions, gave up the chance of warmth, presents and family time, to guarantee the public’s safety at sea.
On Christmas Eve, I was speaking with one gentleman, who had a personal dislike of the Christmas holiday’s, for reasons he didn’t wish to divulge, but rather than being the proverbial “Bah-Humbug”, had chosen to dedicate his Christmas Day, to working at a foodbank and giving out food to Manchester’s homeless citizens.
Among the festivities taking place on Christmas Day, it was also easy to forget the many doctors, nurses, police officers, firefighters and paramedics, who despite their own family commitments, still made sure that we could all celebrate in our homes, or walk down our streets, and enjoy our own celebrations in peace, while being secure in the knowledge of their silent, but ever reliable festive presence.
by Hussein Al-alak, chair of the Iraq Solidarity Campaign UK and editor of Iraq Solidarity News (Al-Thawra).