Saturday 27 May 2017

Christmas a time of fear, not joy for Iraq's embattled Christians

Lindsey Hilsum in Baghdad

Only one Baghdad church is celebrating Christmas fully this year, as Iraq's Christians fear a recurrence of the recent murders of their fellow parishioners and are forced to mark the occasion in the absence of more than 1,000 families who have fled.

Five Islamist extremists burst into the church of Our Lady of Salvation in Baghdad in October, murdering two priests, holding the congregation hostage and eventually killing more than 50 people.

Now Amnesty International has warned of a spike in violence in the run-up to Christmas and has urged the Iraqi government to do more to protect Christians, who are now believed to number less than 500,000, about half the level of seven years ago.

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