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» 03/21/2005
IRAQ
Baghdad Christians celebrate Palm Sunday without fear
Christian political leader abducted in January is freed.

Baghdad (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Iraqi Christians crowded Palm Sunday services in Baghdad. "We are not afraid," said Mayssoun Ishoo, a Syriac Catholic who, with other faithful, attended services at Our Lady of Deliverance in Baghdad to start Holy Week celebrations.

The church was one of the five Christian places of worship hit by bomb attacks in August 2004. It was further targeted by another bomb last October. But yesterday, Palm Sunday, it was hit by throngs of people, families with their children.

Arriving at the church the faithful performed the traditional act of reverence before the statue of Our Lady which stands in the Church yard, now protected by cement blocks to discourage car bombs.

Hundreds of people, olive branches in their hands, eagerly participated in the mass service. They were relaxed and their faces did not have that edginess of some months ago.

During the procession, many reached out to touch the bronze cross carried by the celebrating priest.

"Attacks in the last few months have not stopped us from attending service," many of them said.

Still, Mgr Shaba Matoka, head of the Syriac Catholic Church, said that "we are not always certain that we can live in peace". In his opinion, the "troublemakers are not true Iraqis, but foreigners and those who serve foreign interests".

Speaking about the country's many religious groups, he stressed that "everyone in Iraq in Iraq has expressed the desire to live together".

Even talk about introducing Sharia law in Iraq has not raised concerns among Iraqi Christians.

"I don't cover my head like Muslim women," said a Christian woman, who was wearing smart make-up and was accompanied by her two daughters clad in jeans.

Christians were also delighted to hear that Minas al-Yousifi, a Christian political leader abducted in Baghdad on January 28, was released last Friday.

The 'Iraqi Vengeance Brigades' had claimed the kidnapping and demanded a US$ 4 million ransom and the withdrawal of foreign troops. Eventually, the kidnappers asked only for US$ 400,000.

In a dramatic video footage al-Yousifi, who had spent 20 years in exile in Sweden, appealed to the Pope and the King of Sweden.

Upon his liberation Mr Yousifi, who heads Iraq's Christian Democratic Party, said no ransom was paid. (LF)

 


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See also
03/31/2005 IRAQ
Easter in Mosul, Christians overcome fear and throng churches
03/23/2005 IRAQ
Christians of Mosul, the light of the Resurrection in the Calvary of war
by Marta Allevato
03/24/2005 PHILIPPINES
Easter, a time of crowded churches and terrorist threats
03/24/2005 ISRAEL – PALESTINE – HOLY LAND
Jerusalem: the Cross breaks down the wall of fear
by Bernardo Cervellera
03/22/2005 JORDAN
Easter, the 'Light of Christ', from Jerusalem to the Jordan
by Hana Mouasher
LAOS
Catholics celebrate Easter in a new church in northern Laos
IRAQ
Easter in Mosul, Christians overcome fear and throng churches
China - Vatican
Underground Catholic priest arrested
PAKISTAN
One killed and six injured after an Easter attack by armed assailants
PAKISTAN
Easter in Pakistan, a time of solidarity despite discrimination
TURKEY
In Antioch Catholics and Orthodox celebrate Easter together
BANGLADESH
Waiting for the Resurrection of Christ and the rise of the sun on a working day
THAILAND
In Phuket, the Passion of Christ can be seen in the eyes of people
THAILAND
Catholics and Muslims united by a Cross
PHILIPPINES
Easter, a time of crowded churches and terrorist threats
ISRAEL – PALESTINE – HOLY LAND
Jerusalem: the Cross breaks down the wall of fear
HOLY LAND – ISRAEL – PALESTINE
The joy of the Risen in the midst of the trials of the Mideast, says Patriarch of Jerusalem
PAKISTAN
Catholic NGO to help widows and children for Easter
IRAQ
Christians of Mosul, the light of the Resurrection in the Calvary of war
JORDAN
Easter, the 'Light of Christ', from Jerusalem to the Jordan
THAILAND
On Easter night 25 new Christians to join the faith
LEBANON
Palm Sunday, when hope lies with the young
PAKISTAN
Catholics crowd churches for Palm Sunday services
PAKISTAN
From the Passion of Christ to the fight against social injustice
THAILAND
Far from high tech gizmos, Thai Catholics celebrate Lent
south korea
Way Of The Cross To Emphasize Dignity Of Human Life From Conception
CAMBODIA
On Eastern Sunday 174 Cambodians to become Christian
PAKISTAN
Fasting and solidarity during Lent in Pakistan
vietnam
Catholics Pledge Thrifty Lunar New Year Celebrations To Help Tsunami Survivors

Editor's choices
VATICAN
Pope: I am with the persecuted Christians of Mosul and the Middle East "May the God of peace inspire in all a genuine desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence is never defeated with violence. Violence is defeated with peace." At the Sunday Angelus Francis comments on the parable of the wheat and the weeds. God is "patient" He knows "the same weeds in the end, may become good wheat". But "at the time of the harvest, that is, of judgment, the reapers will execute the order of the master separating the weeds to be burned".
CHINA - VATICAN
Beijing, seminarians desert graduation ceremony: We will not celebrate Mass with illegitimate bishops The rector of the seminary is the illegitimate bishop Joseph Ma Yinglin: Students refuse to concelebrate with him and reject Msgr. Fang Xingyao, who has participated in several illegal episcopal ordinations. The directors close the year without awarding diplomas and send students home: rumors of some courses being "suspended" in September. The precedent of 2000, when 130 young students chose fidelity to the Pope over compromise with the government.
HONG KONG-CHINA-VATICAN
Card Zen: Religious freedom and civil liberties are united, for China and Hong Kong
by Bernardo CervelleraA wide ranging conversation with the bishop emeritus of Hong Kong: the courage of Msgr. Ma Daqin, who sent a message to Pope Francis; underground Catholics are also prepared to be arrested; suspicions about Beijing’s sincerity towards possible dialogue with the Holy See. And in Hong Kong, the march for a referendum on democracy; support for "Occupy Central"; the fear of the government and arrests. Card. Zen reaffirms that religious freedom and civil liberties go hand in hand.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
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