Christmas this year coincides with the religious festival Ashoura, one of Islam’s most solemn holidays. Christians in Iraq are choosing to mark their holiday in silence, to show respect for the annual Shiite period of mourning.
Christian families are staying home after Mass, instead of embracing the festive period with friends and family.
In Basra, Iraq’s second-largest city, Christian leaders and worshippers say they will have a quiet Christmas to show respect to Muslims.
However, Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, Iraq’s first cardinal, was keen to point out religious celebrations will continue as normal.
Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, Head of Chaldean Church, said, “We have been living together with Muslims as brothers in this country for hundreds of years, several times, such coincidence happened. This means nothing.”
The major religious festival of Ashoura is celebrated on the tenth day of Muharram in the Islamic lunar calendar. This year’s Ashoura falls on Sunday, December 27th.