World Report

Outpourings of solidarity as Iraqi Christians, Muslims unite at Christmas

Patriarch Raphael Louis Sako

Iraq’s Chaldean Patriarch has spoken of an outpouring of solidarity for Christians in Baghdad over the Christmas period by Muslims eager to reject the ideology and divisiveness of so-called Islamic State (ISIS).

In a New Year’s interview with AsiaNews, Patriarch Raphael Louis Sako described how young Muslims travelled from the city of Najaf to attend Christmas Mass in the city and the sight of Christians and Muslims celebrating the New Year together in a vocal rejection of ISIS.

“[The young people] took part in the church service and then we posed for photographs with a flag of Iraq and banners for peace,” the patriarch revealed. Adding that the group later shared a meal with him and other members of the Christian community,  Patriarch Sako said: “I explained to them our faith, in the one God, the Trinity concept. I explained the basics of our faith, the common descent from Abraham, the figure of Jesus. I invited them to combat ignorance of Christianity, we are not infidels.”

Patriarch Sako extended that appeal to local media outlets which had sent journalists to cover the event.

Continuing his recollections, the patriarch said: “New Year’s Eve, I went out to go to a square in the Mansour neighbourhood of Baghdad. We celebrated with a lot of people, nearly a million people took to the streets. We talked with them, we exchanged greetings.” 

The prelate described the festive greetings as “small [but] important things to reject the Daesh [ISIS] ideology of terror”.


Slovenian bishops lament chapel desecration: The Bishops’ Conference of Slovenia has voice its regret at reports of a targeted graffiti attack on a remote chapel in the country. On January 2, persons unknown spray-painted ‘Allahu Akhbar’ (Allah is great) on the exterior walls of the chapel near Ljubljana. A spokesman for the bishops said the attack had been “directed against the peaceful coexistence between religious communities in Slovenia” and he welcomed a statement from the nation’s Muslim community calling for the arrest of those responsible.