Pravoslavie.ru – December 2014
The outrages of radical Islamists on Iraqi and Syrian territory have not only deprived Christians who live under the yoke of the takfirists of the joy of Christmas, but also alarmed neighboring regions that for the moment are free of the terrorists, reports Linga with reference to news agencies.
According to the eyewitnesses’ evidence, on the territories occupied by “the Islamic State” the very utterance of the word “Christmas” is equated with the public preaching of Christianity and is punishable by death.
According to Suleiman Yusuf, an international human rights activist, at the present time even an indirect suggestion of the festive mood that is reigning in homes of Christian families of the Nineveh Valley is dangerous. Thus, unusual activity on Christmas days may attract attention of inspectors-takfirists who take the law into their own hands and cruelly deal with “disturbers of the public peace.”
“Needless to say hundreds and hundreds of Iraqi churches have not been decorated and adorned for the Christmas feast: today rain is pouring down either on ruins of the centuries-old churches or else on deserted and desecrated altars,” he said.
Father Maysar Bahnam, Rector of the Catholic Church of St. George the Victory-Bearer in Baghdad, in his interview dispelled the myth of the safety of Christians in the Iraqi capital which is not under control of militants: “Around 400 people are present at my services; but we cannot arrange a procession of the cross or organize something for the feast outside the church—this is absolutely dangerous now.”
The days of Nativity, joyless for 250,000 Christians of the Nineveh Valley, became a hectic period for believers of Lebanon. According to Lebanese Bishop Michel Qassarji, on an average, a Lebanese community has sheltered around 1,800 refugees since the beginning of the Iraqi conflict; 25 new families come to churches every week to ask for help. “All this is very difficult. But as the Church, we are doing our best to meet the needs of these unfortunate people, particularly in food and education,” the hierarch assured the journalists.