Baghdad’s Christians gather defiantly for Christmas Eve mass

Iraqi Christians pray during a mass on Christmas eve at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Baghdad December 24, 2014. CREDIT: REUTERS/ THAIER AL-SUDANI

(Reuters) – Baghdad’s embattled Christian community worshipped defiantly Wednesday night at Christmas Eve mass.

The pews filled at Baghdad’s Sacred Heart church, as people remembered the darkest year in memory.

Blast walls shielded the church and seven policeman flanked the outside of the house of worship, in an indication of the government’s fear of an attack on the religious groups by jihadists who consider them non-believers.

The congregation sang in unison: “Praise Jesus, our Lord. Oh praise him” as incense burnt in the darkened church.

The worshippers paid tribute to the thousands of Christians displaced this summer in northern Iraq when Islamic State seized the city of Mosul in June and in August pushed on toward Iraqi Kurdistan, over-running Christian towns on the Nineveh plain…

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