Refugee Iraqi Christians attend a pre-Christmas mass at Chaldean Catholic church in Amman (December 22, 2010/Ali Jarekji)
Iraqi church leaders are telling Christians to cancel their Christmas celebrations.
Some church leaders in Iraq have told Christians not to celebrate Christmas except with prayer after lethal attacks and continuing threats by militants against the Iraqi Christian community.
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“No Santa Claus, no celebrations, no gifts this year,” Archbishop Louis Sako, chairman of the Chaldean archbishops in Kirkuk and Sulaimaniya, said on Wednesday. “We don’t have the right to jeopardize others’ lives.”
In a new threat published on an Islamist website, the local affiliate of al Qaeda threatened more attacks against Iraqi Christians. Insurgent attacks have panicked Iraq’s minority Christian community. Thousands have fled to the semi-autonomous northern Kurdish region or overseas.