Iraqi cities preparing for large Christmas celebrations

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Members of the Nineveh Protection Units stand guard outside the Church Mar Eddie the Apostle during Christmas mass in the predominantly Christian Iraqi town of Qaraqosh. (AFP)
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Iraqi Christians attend mass on Christmas eve at the Grand Immaculate Church in the predominantly Christian Iraqi town of Qaraqosh. (AFP)
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Iraqi Christians attend a mass on Christmas Eve at the Grand Immaculate Church in al-Hamdaniya, near Mosul, Iraq December 24, 2018. (Reuters)
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A member of the Nineveh Protection Units stands guard outside the Church Mar Eddie the Apostle during Christmas mass in the predominantly Christian Iraqi town of Qaraqosh. (AFP)
Updated 24 December 2018

Iraqi cities preparing for large Christmas celebrations

  • With security threats at their lowest level in five years, Iraqi cities are preparing for largescale Christmas celebrations
  • Local authorities nationwide have set up large decorated Christmas trees in main squares

BAGHDAD: With security threats at their lowest level in five years, Iraqi cities are preparing for largescale Christmas celebrations, Christian clerics and officials told Arab News on Sunday.
Local authorities nationwide have set up large decorated Christmas trees in main squares. Shops in Kardaa, a neighborhood in southern Baghdad that includes many churches, are filled with Christmas decorations and accessories.
Celebrations this year follow the declaration of the defeat of Daesh in Iraq. The terrorist group had killed and displaced Christians in the north of the country following its sweeping territorial gains in June 2014.
Some cites such as Ramadi, capital of the Sunni-majority Anbar province in western Iraq, is celebrating Christmas for the first time since 2003, locals told Arab News.
“The security situation this year is the most stable in a long time, thank God,” Ara Badalian, pastor of the Evangelical Baptist Church in Baghdad, told Arab News.
“We’re more relaxed and free to practice our ritual ceremonies this time compared to previous years, and we’ve extended our celebration hours to 10 p.m. instead of 8 p.m.,” he said.
“The number of festivals we’ve planned is the most in many years, and participation is much wider and not limited to Christians, as our friends from other sects are keen to participate in our celebrations.”
Baghdad and other cities have witnessed a significant drop in the number of terrorist attacks in the past three years.
The number of casualties across the country in November was the lowest in six years, according to statistics from the UN Mission in Iraq.
Troops have been deployed near churches, malls and main squares to guard against potential terrorist attacks.
After Christmas, Iraqis see in the new year with street celebrations accompanied by music and fireworks.
Many clubs, cafes and malls hold free parties with famous singers throughout the last week of December.
“It’s an occasion to see all my family members to celebrate New Year’s Eve and enjoy time with them,” Rawaa Abdulridha, a young lawyer, told Arab News.
“We’re hungry for joy. We’re exhausted because war and death have dominated our streets for many years, so the time has come for some joy.”


Kuwait cabinet consider full coronavirus curfew

Updated 10 April 2020

Kuwait cabinet consider full coronavirus curfew

  • The cabinet discussed preventive measures and current conditions in the Mahboula and Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh areas in the country
  • A program of repatriating people is due to start at the end of the week for those who register on a special website

DUBAI: The Kuwait government has said it is considering imposing a full curfew in the country, as well as increasing medical employees and halving passes issued to workers across various sectors that allow their movement during the curfew, state news agency KUNA reported.
The cabinet discussed preventive measures and current conditions in the Mahboula and Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh areas in the country, which are under complete lockdown.
The authorities have been ordered to create an executive plan to deal with the possibility of imposing a curfew, government spokesman Tareq Al-Mezrem said in an online news conference.
A program of repatriating people is due to start at the end of the week for those who register on a special website.
Al-Mezrem said the cabinet had ordered cleaning and security companies, contracted to the government, to pay workers and ensure they have good living conditions.
“The government will take legal action against companies violating this issue,” he said.
The country has also approved a request from the Ministry of Commerce to activate an electronic app for people to shop at cooperative societies, Al-Mezrem added.
The state, meanwhile, ordered the Directorate General for Civil Aviation to enable airline operation in order for expats to return back to their countries.