Saturday, December 25, 2010






Marci Stone (US Headlines Examiner) reports, "Friday afternoon, Santa is currently in Baghdad, Iraq and on his next stop is Moscow, Russia, according to the 2010 NORAD Santa Tracker. The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has been tracking Santa as he makes his annual journey throughout the world." Gerald Skoning (Palm Beach Post) quotes Santa saying, "We send our special wishes for peace and goodwill to all. That includes the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran and North Korea." Please note that this is Santa's seventh trip to Iraq since the start of the Iraq War and, as usual, his journey was known in advance. No waiting until he hit the ground to announce he was going to Iraq -- the way George The Bully Boy Bush had to and the way US President Barack Obama still has to. In the lead up to Santa's yearly visit, many 'authorities' in Iraq began insisting that Christmas couldn't be celebrated publicly, that even Santa was banned.
Shemmi Hanna stating, "I wasn't hurt but I wish that I had been killed. I wish I had become a martyr for this church, but God kept me alive for my daughters." Shemmi Hanna was in Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad when it was assaulted October 31st and she lost her husband, her son, her daughter-in-law and her infant grandson in the attack. The October 31st attack marks the latest wave of violence targeting Iraqi Christians. The violence has led many to flee to northern Iraq (KRG) or to other countries. Zvi Bar'el (Haaretz) notes, "This week the Iraqi legislature discussed the Christians' situation and passed a resolution in principle to help families who fled. However, the parliament does not know where the Christians are, how many are still in Iraq, in their homes, and how many have found asylum in Iraqi Kurdistan." John Leland (New York Times) reports:

The congregants on Friday night were fewer than 100, in a sanctuary built for four or five times as many. But they were determined. This year, even more than in the past, Iraqi's dwindling Christian minority had reasons to stay home for Christmas.
"Yes, we are threatened, but we will not stop praying," the Rev. Meyassr al-Qaspotros told the Christmas Eve crowd at the Sacred Church of Jesus, a Chaldean Catholic church. "We do not want to leave the country because we will leave an empty space."

Raheem Salman (Los Angeles Times) reports, "Rimon Metti's family will go to Christian services on Christmas Day, but his relatives will be praying for their own survival and wondering whether this is their last holiday season in Baghdad. If they had any grounds for optimism about the future of their faith in Iraq, it vanished this year amid repeated attacks on fellow believers." Shahsank Bengali (McClatchy Newspapers) adds, "Nearly two months after a shocking assault by Islamist militants, Our Lady of Salvation Catholic Church will commemorate Christmas quietly, with daytime mass and prayers for the dead, under security fit more for a prison than a house of worship. It is the same at Christian churches across Baghdad and northern Iraq, where what's left of one of the world's oldest Christian communities prepares to mark perhaps the most somber Christmas since the start of the Iraq war."
Meanwhile Taylor Luck (Jordan Times) reports on Iraqi refugees in Jordan:

Although the calendar will say December 25, for Theresa, Saturday will not be Christmas.
There will be no cinnamon klecha cooling on the dining room table, no outdoor ceramic nativity scene, no readings of hymns with relatives.
The 63-year-old Iraqi woman has even refused to put up Christmas lights in the crowded two-room Amman hotel apartment she has called home since fleeing Baghdad last month.
"There is no holiday spirit. All we have is fear," she said.
This holiday will instead mark another year without news from her 46-year-old son, who was kidnapped outside Baghdad in late 2006.

From Turkey, Sebnem Arsu (New York Times -- link has text and video) notes the increase in Iraq refugees to the country since October 31st and quotes Father Emlek stating, "I've never seen as many people coming here as I have in the last few weeks. They also go to Lebanon, Jordan and Syria but it seems that Turkey is the most popular despite the fact that they do not speak the language." Jeff Karoub (AP) reports on the small number of Iraqi refugees who have made it to the US and how some of them "struggle with insomnia, depression and anxiety."
One group in Iraq who can openly celebrate Christmas are US service members who elect to. Barbara Surk (AP) reports that tomorrow Chief Warrant Officer Archie Morgan will celebrate his fourth Christmas in Iraq and Captain Diana Crane is celebrating her second Christmas in Iraq: "Crane was among several dozen troops attending a Christmas Eve mass in a chapel in Camp Victory, an American military base just outside Baghdad." Marc Hansen (Des Moines Reigster) speaks with six service members from Iowa who are stationed in Iraq. Sgt 1st Class Dennis Crosser tells Hansen, "I certainly understand from reading the paper what's going on in Afghanistan and the attention definitely needs to be on the troops there. But everyone serving here in Operation New Dawn appreciates a little bit of attention as we finish this up."

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