A Muslim businessman has erected an 85-foot-tall Christmas tree in Baghdad as a sign of solidarity with Christians during the holiday season, The Associated Press reports.
Yassir Saad said the initiative aims at “joining our Christian brothers in their holiday celebrations and helping Iraqis forget their anguish, especially the war in Mosul.” He hopes the Christmas tree would help Iraqis “forget their anguish” over the war against ISIS.
Saad spent around $24,000 to erect the artificial tree in the center of an amusement park. Students visiting the theme park took pictures with the tree. Teacher Saba Ismael said, “This tree represents love and peace. I wish all Iraqi Christians could return to Iraq and live normal and peaceful lives.”
Since the 2003 US-led invasion, Iraqi Christians have been persistently persecuted by Islamic extremists. Some Christians have left the country for safety and better economic opportunities.
In 2014, ISIS captured Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city. The militant group wreaked havoc in the Christian communities, targeting churches and other places of worship. Some Christians were able to return to villages near Mosul which Iraqi forces have regained control over recently.
Telegraphcouk. (2016). The Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/12/18/iraqi-businessman-erects-tallest-christmas-tree-baghdad/
Independentcouk. (2016). The Independent. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/iraq-muslim-businessman-christmas-tree-baghdad-christians-isis-a7481561.html