Baghdad celebrates first public Christmas amid hope, memories

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) – From a distance, it looks like an apparition: a huge multi-colored hot-air balloon floating in the Baghdad sky, bearing a large poster of Jesus Christ. Below it, an Iraqi flag.

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.

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.

cnn.com/2008/WORLD/meast/12/21/iraq.christmas/index.html

God bless the Iraqi people…and Merry Christmas to all!

…and here is a link to Jingle Bombs for those who haven’t seen it yet (Achmed the Dead Terrorist/ventriloquist Jeff Dunham): youtube.com/watch?v=wskT6YfVB6E

Looks like it was a lovely event–maybe one that will help dispel some of the hostility towards Christians over there. Blessings on the people of Iraq, the Middle East, and the whole world this Christmas Season! :christmastree1:

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