Iraq: Christians face Easter under curfew

 This year for the second time running, Christians in Iraq will celebrate Easter under curfew. Chaldean, Armenian, Syrian and Latin Catholics in Baghdad will celebrate Holy Week in a climate of apparent calm, but in a constant state of tension and fear of violence and attacks, Fides News reports. A lay Catholic in Baghdad said: "Services for Holy Week and Easter will be in the mornings only because of the curfew. This means we cannot hold the Easter Vigil Mass at night and Easter will be very quiet. Many families are too afraid to go to church. For us the situation is calm, there is tension among Muslim groups but it does not affect Christians. However violence affects everyone and is the cause of fear. "In northern Iraq it was a tradition for Catholics to take part in Holy Week services at the various ancient Chaldean and Syrian monasteries. But today most people are too afraid to go anywhere, or let their children go to church. "There will be less people at services on Holy Thursday and Good Friday. People know their lives are in danger all the time and this is deeply worrying. Even the bishops fear violence and many prefer to live somewhere else rather than at the Bishop's House or the church. "Nevertheless our hope was strengthened at the sight of smiling children waving palms and singing on Palm Sunday in Baghdad. We hope they will live in democracy, serenity, social harmony, freedom of expression and religion. This is our prayer for Easter." Source: Fides

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