iraqi christians gather defiantly to mark christmas in church where many killed - black plastic sheeting
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This article is published at 25/12/2010 (3081 days ago)
Therefore, the information in it may no longer be up to date. BAGHDAD -
Iraqi Christians held a Christmas mass at a church in Baghdad on Saturday.
The al-Qaida attack, faced with a distinct symbol of the cost of faith: a photo of a dead Parish resident in front of the altar, the black cassocks hanging on the wall represented two priests killed. The Oct.
31 The attack on the Church of salvation was the deadliest attack on Iraqi Christians, killing 68 people.
A series of subsequent bombings prompted thousands of Christians to flee to more peaceful Kurds in Iraq. run north —and renewed al-
Al-Qaida threats cast a shadow over Saturday's celebrations.
But the 300 worshippers who gathered on Christmas morning insisted that they would not be driven away.
Archbishop Matti Shaba Matouka told the congregation: "Love Will Save Us no matter how violent the storm is . ".
There are bullet holes in the walls, plastic sheets cover the gaps in the glass windows, and small pieces of dry meat and blood still stick to the ceiling.
The buzzing sound of the helicopter competes with the church service below;
The building is now surrounded by concrete explosion-proof walls and a large number of security personnel.
Iraqi church officials have canceled many Christmas celebrations, such as Santa Claus or mass at night, for fear of their parish residents in al-
This week, al-Qaida threatened more violence against them.
A low-key celebration is also a painful respect for the community.
In a church attack, gunmen held more than 120 people hostage, killing 68 people.
A few days later, a series of bombings took place outside the Christian family and in the Christian community, threatening the family.
Photos of many victims in church on Saturday
Including a few children.
Flowers are placed on the steps in front of the altar.
Parish residents say they will not be intimidated and give up their faith or their country.
"I love my country.
I buried my parents here.
I can't leave it, "said Babba Yousuf, 52. year-
The old lady who joined her family for morning service.
"We believe in God and he will protect us.
"Some parishioners said they didn't buy a Christmas tree and there was no reason to be happy.
Rath Amir says he and his family spend most of their time at home because they are too scared to go out.
Nevertheless, the attack on the church strengthened the will of many Christians, he said.
The church was baptized by the blood of martyrs.
"It gives us more motivation to celebrate Christmas in the church, despite what happened to us," he said . ".
A few church ceremonies for Christmas in other parts of the country are usually low-key.
The road to the church in the southern Iraqi city of Basra --
The largest city, 340 miles (550 kilometres)
South-east of Baghdad, blocked by barbed wire.
Security forces are deployed around churches without Christmas decorations.
Pastor Emad Abouna said at a party at Theresa's mother's church in central Basra: "Today's mass is a sad mass to show solidarity with the victims of the Salvation Church of Notre Dame.
Many churches in the northern city of Mosul 225 miles (360 kilometres)
There is no service in northwestern Baghdad.
Sunni militants gained a foothold in the city and launched a campaign of intimidation against Christians.
Some Christians go to nearby towns or villages to attend the Church of the Christmas church.
According to a recent State Department report, Christian leaders estimate that between 400,000 and 600,000 Christians still live in Iraq.
At some point before the war, the number was as high as 1.
Some estimates are 4 million.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al
Maliki has called on Christians not to be kicked out of the country.
"Trying to keep Christians away from their homes and the land they have been sticking to around them for centuries is a huge crime against national unity," al-
Maliki made a statement on his website Saturday to celebrate Christmas. U. N.
Officials estimate that some 1,000 Christian families seek refuge in three northern Iraqi provinces, which form the Kurdish region or the Nineveh plain northeast of Mosul;
The two areas are considered safer than Baghdad or Mosul.
Sheat Jubran and his three children went to the 160-mile Kurdish city of sullaimaniyah (260 kilometres)
The church is besieged northeast of Baghdad.
Saturday's grief eased his mood for safety.
"How do we celebrate when Christians are killed every day in Iraq?
"They killed our children and believers in prayer and they continue to commit the ugliest crimes against Christians," he said . ".
_ AP Bushra Juhi in Baghdad and Yahya Barzanji in Sulaimaniya contributed to the report.