(Image courtesy Pixabay)

(Image courtesy Pixabay)

A ministry that works in support of persecuted Christians worldwide reports it had joyful news this holiday season: the government’s cabinet in Iraq declared Christmas a national holiday this year.

But then Sheikh Abdul Madhi al-Sumaidaie torpedoed the whole idea.

He issued a fatwa, an Islamic religious decree, that forbade Muslims from participating in celebrations “of the cross” or even congratulating Christians during the season.

“The fatwa also includes a prohibition against the New Year’s celebration, which is often mistakenly assumed to be an official Christian holiday,” the ICC report confirmed.

Al-Sumaidaie is the grand mufti for Iraq.

“The violence Christians in Iraq have faced over the last two decades has gained widespread attention following the rise of ISIS in 2014,” the report continued, “Iraqi Christians, however, have frequently warned that these waves of violence are driven by an absence of law and Islamic extremism which encourages social ostracization and discrimination even in times of peace.

“The Christian population in Iraq has significantly shrunk as a result of these factors,” the report said.

Iraq, actually, is where some of those who played a role in the Bible’s text lived, and where some of the earliest Christian churches to exist were located.

Many of those artifacts were destroyed by Islamics over the last decade or so.

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