Christmas carols have been sung in Mosul’s Saint Paul cathedral for the first time since the Iraqi city was overrun by Islamic State militants.
“The last Christmas mass here was in 2013”.
Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Sako called on other Christians to return to Mosul now that Islamic State militants have been expelled. He put the tree up in order to join “our Christian brothers in their holiday celebrations and helping Iraqis forget their anguish”.
During its time in control in northern Iraq, ISIS routinely executed, abducted and banished Christians.
“We are hopeful that many many Christians will be back.”
Presidential spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders also remarked on the incredible display in a December 24 tweet reading, “Thank God for the President’s leadership in fight to defeat ISIS”.
It wasn’t clear if Mr. Saad was involved in this year’s decoration.
“Our church bells rang for the first time in more than three years since Daesh (ISIS) captured the city”, he said.
Worshipers at this church say they hope to go home if or when they are more confident Mosul is safe, but so far, less than a dozen Christian families have returned. “Restaurants and shops are decorated with Christmas trees and Santa Claus images”. Christian aid and advocacy groups believe that number could now be as low as 300,000.