The Iraqi Cabinet announced that it has amended the national holiday laws to add Christmas Day as a national holiday in Iraq. Iraq had been home to over some 1.4 million Christians before the Iraq civil war. That number has dropped to approximately 400,000 due to the increased religious persecution during the height of the civil war.
Iraqi Christians celebrated mass, led by Father Basilius, at the St. George Chaldean Church in Baghdad on Christmas Day. Christians have lived in Iraq since the first century and many have vowed to return when security conditions permit.
“We extend our warmest wishes to Christians in Iraq and around the world for a very happy and peaceful Christmas,” the government said in a Tuesday morning tweet.