Chaldean Church to hold largest New Year’s celebration in years in Ankawa, Iraq

ANKAWA / ERBIL, Iraq — Chaldean Archbishop Mor Bashara Matti Warda of the Diocese of Erbil announced the success of the Church’s preparations for the upcoming New Year’s celebration, saying that it began about two weeks ago. The diocese decided to organize an especially large celebration this year, saying that the Church seeks to serve the poor and that food prepared by the youth and gifts for children are to be distributed to families.

Chaldean Bishop Mor Bachara added that this year’s New Year’s celebration will be the largest, especially after fears that gatherings could not be held again due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Several Chaldean–Syriac–Assyrian families from America, Europe, and Australia returned to the homeland to celebrate the New Year in Ankawa.

Bishop Mor Bachara said that Ankawa is one of the largest Christian communities in the Middle East, inhabited by more than eight thousand families.

He pointed out that the cost of food and preparations for holidays can be a burden on poor families and that is why the Church is helping as many families as possible this year, distributing food and gifts to more than a thousand needy families.

The Iraqi constitution is based on Islamic Sharia and therefore it is not possible to enact a law that contradicts Islamic Sharia, stated the Bishop. Therefore, non-Muslim citizens will not obtain their full rights, he added, stressing that this statement is not criticism or attack, but rather the reality of the situation in the country.

Regarding the situation of Christians in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), Bishop Mor Bachara said that the Chaldean–Syriac–Assyrian people were subjected to kidnapping and displacement from Baghdad, Mosul, Kerkeslokh (Kirkuk), and Basra in the period immediately after the US invasion of the country in 2003. In the period between 2004 and 2005, 67 churches were bombed and more than 1,200 Chaldeans–Syriacs–Assyrians 1,200 were killed because of their identity and beliefs.