Iraq’s Chaldean Christians cancel public Christmas celebrations over respect for deaths in anti-government protests

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Iraqis walk past a decorated Christmas tree in Baghdad’s Karrada district Credit:  SABAH ARAR/AFP via Getty Images
Josie Ensor, Middle East correspondent
Joseph Haboush
The towering Christmas tree in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square had always been a wondrous sight. The giant baubles, twinkling tinsel and angelic figure sat at its tip had brightened up the otherwise drab central plaza.

Families of all faiths would gather on the first Sunday of every December to watch as its lights were switched on to great ceremony. This year, however, the tree lays bare.

Earlier this month, leaders of the Chaldean faith – the largest Christian denomination in Iraq – decided to cancel public celebrations of Christmas in solidarity with those protesting against the government.