BASRA (Iraq) – The Chaldean Bishop (Catholic) of the southern city of Basra has asked Christians not to organize public celebrations for Christmas because it coincides this year with the Shiite mourning of Ashura.
“The bishop of Basrah Iman al-Banna called on all Christian brethren not to display their joy, not to publicly celebrate the feast of the Nativity or entertaining guests at home to show our respect vis-Ã -vis Shiites, on the occasion of Muharram,” said the statement issued Sunday.
“We ask them to only celebrate Mass in their churches and to commemorate the Nativity at home,” he added.
The Shiites, according to the lunar calendar, commemorate this year the mourning of Ashura (the 10th of the month of Muharram) the next weekend when Christmas falls on Friday.
Of the 5000 Christian souls at the time of Saddam Hussein, there remains only half in this largely Shiite city (450 km south of Baghdad), after the atrocities committed in the chaos that followed the fall of Saddam in 2003 in the wake of the American invasion.
Questioned by AFP, the bishop of Baghdad Shlimoune Wardouni said that this concerned only Basra.
Shiites commemorate the death in Karbala of Hussein and his half-brother Abbas, grand son of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), killed by the troops of the Umayyad caliph Yazid in 680.
Ennaharonline/ M. O.