Fearful Iraqis Cancel Christmas Celebrations

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Christians have cancelled Christmas celebrations in Iraq. The decision was made due to the possibility of more militant attacks on a community already terrorized by the recent massacre of a Baghdad Catholic church.

There are more signs of mourning than celebration outside one Iraqi church. Christian leaders, like Younadim Kanna, decided it was best to cancel the traditional Christmas celebrations.

"First because of the sad attacks and genocide of the Salvation Church in addition to that just like a protection or to avoid any unexpected attacks, somewhere," Kanna said.

Muslim extremists have killed an estimated 80 Iraqi Christians in the last two months and Christians face the threat of more militant attacks. The decision has hurt holiday business for shop owners like Evan Korkis.

"The celebrations this year are less than last year," Korkis said. "People are afraid. They cannot move easily because of the last attacks on Christians."

Carl Moeller of Open Doors USA, a ministry that works with persecuted Christians all over the world, said people of faith need to support Iraq's Christian community.

"The world should not stand idly by while a small minority religious community in a far away place -- that many of us frankly in America would like to put in our past-- while they are exterminated we cannot sit quietly and idly by," Moeller said.

Iraq was once home to 1 million Christians. Moeller estimated that only 350,000 Christians remain in the country today because of religious persecution.

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