On Christmas day, a picture of Jesus floated on a balloon over Baghdad while Interior Ministry spokesman Abdul Karim Khalaf declared "All Iraqis are Christian today!"
-- From "Iraqi government sponsors Christmas celebration" © 2008 WorldNetDaily 12/24/08
Ken Joseph Jr. of the Assyrian Christians told WND walking through the streets of Washington, D.C., provides a visitor with no link between the decorations and festivities of the holiday time and the birth of Jesus.
Yet in Baghdad, "the government sponsored a special Christmas celebration for the Christians. The main focus was the huge picture of Jesus," he said.
At Hot Air, Ed Morrisssey wrote, "Can anyone imagine this celebration taking place with government support in any other Arab nation — even those normally described as 'moderate'? Not only does this celebration include the standard secular imagery of Santa Claus, they actually put a picture of Jesus Christ on a hot-air balloon. That's a big deal in a Muslim nation, where they object strenuously (and often violently) to iconography. Suggesting that Iraqis are 'all Christians' on any day would get a Muslim fired or worse anyplace else in the region."
He continued, "This is what victory looks like. Iraq has settled into what Condoleezza Rice called a 'multi-confessional' society, one that has begun to promote a religious tolerance that is unlike anything seen in that region in decades, if not centuries or ever."
-- From "Christmas comes to Iraq!" by Connie MacLeod, Orlando Christianity Examiner 12/23/08
In a small park in Baghdad, children dressed as Kurds, Turkmen, Yazidis, Christians, Muslims all held hands singing "We are building Iraq!" A hot air balloon draped with a large poster of Jesus and an Iraqi flag floated high over the celebration while Santa balloons and refreshments were served to the tune of military marches. No Christmas carols yet, but maybe by next year, the band will have learned a few.
In America, we are so blessed to be able to worship and celebrate Jesus every day, yet in Baghdad, it’s a very new experience. Pray for them that God would raise up leaders, who will lead the people into relationship with our amazing Savior, Jesus!