First Shoes, Now Christmas

Putting spin on the incident occasioned by¬†Muntadhar al-Zaida’s carelessness with his shoes,¬†one might say that it is a sign of progress – of freedom of expression – that was completely missing in Sadam Hussein’s Iraq. Now comes word of Christmas celebration in Baghdad. According to the CNN.com piece

Welcome to the first-ever public Christmas celebration in Baghdad, held Saturday and sponsored by the Iraqi Interior Ministry. Once thought to be infiltrated by death squads, the Ministry now is trying to root out sectarian violence — as well as improve its P.R. image.

But it is a little bit different celebration than we are used to here

The event takes place in a public park in eastern Baghdad, ringed with security checkpoints. Interior Ministry forces deployed on surrounding rooftops peer down at the scene: a Christmas tree decorated with ornaments and tinsel; a red-costumed Santa Claus waving to the crowd, an Iraqi flag draped over his shoulders; a red-and-black-uniformed military band playing stirring martial music, not Christmas carols.

An Interior Ministry spokesman says that sectarian and ethnic violence killed thousands of Iraqis. He stated further

Now that we have crossed that hurdle and destroyed the incubators of terrorism,and the security situation is good, we have to go back and strengthen community ties.

The story quotes Father Saad Sirop Hanna, a Chaldean Christian priest. Hanna was kidnapped by militants in 2006 and held for 28 days. According to Father Hanna

We are just attesting that things are changing in Baghdad, slowly, but we hope that this change actually is real. We will wait for the future to tell us the truth about this.

The people quoted in the story about this small, guarded celebration, appear to be pragmatic and cautious about the future. Here’s to hoping that our future policies continue to make possible these kinds of significant events during the maturation and mending of Iraq.

Christmas Candles

Christmas Candles

Christmas Banner

Christmas Banner

Iraqi Children Dressed As Santa

Iraqi Children Dressed As Santa

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