BAGHDAD – Syriac Chaldean Patriarch Mar Louis Sako has requested from the President of the Republic of Iraq to support the annual Christian festive commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ to become a public holiday in Iraq. According to the Syriac Chaldean patriarchal website the “the two sides addressed the situation and affairs of Christians in general, and His Holiness submitted a legal request to make Christmas a national public holiday.”
His Holiness Mar Louis Sako, who is also the Archbishop of Baghdad, handed over the legal bill urging for official public recognition of Christmas to Iraqi President Barham Salih last Saturday when Salih (a Kurd) received the Syriac Chaldean Patriarch at his presidential residence.
According to Catholic information service Agenzia Fides, “official sources of the Chaldean Patriarchate and the Iraqi Presidency report” that “Iraqi President Barham Salih … recognized and exalted the role of Christian communities in the reconstruction of the country, reaffirming its commitment to favor in every way the return of displaced Christians to their territories of origin, starting with Mosul and the Nineveh Plain, which they had to abandon during the years of jihadist occupation.”
Most Christians in Iraq belong to the Suraye people or Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian people, an ancient people in Mesopotamia. An estimated 300-400 thousand Suraye or Chaldeans-Syriacs-Assyrians are believed to have remained in Iraq from the 1.4 to 1.6 million in the pre-Baath Regime era. The capital Baghdad alone had and estimated 500-600 thousand Suraye before 2003.
Christmas Mass – Baghdad 25 Dec. 2019
الاحتفال بعيد الميلاد المجيد في كاتدرائية مار يوسف – بغداد pic.twitter.com/2VxlH6ncWo
— Bishop YALDO (@baselyaldo) December 25, 2019