The AP reports today that the Iraqi government declared Christmas an official holiday:
Iraq’s Christians, a scant minority in this overwhelmingly Muslim country, quietly celebrated Christmas on Thursday with a present from the government, which declared it an official holiday for the first time.
This is an awesome thing, even in light of persecution towards Christians that still occurs in Iraq.
Iraq’s Christians, estimated to number only a few hundred thousand of the country’s 26 million people, have often been the target of attacks by Islamic extremists in Iraq. Tens of thousands have fled; many of those who stayed were isolated in neighborhoods protected by barricades and checkpoints.
In addition to the reporter who threw his shoes at President Bush, the official holiday declaration is yet another sign of positive change that the US has had in Iraq. Rewind eight years ago, the official government would have never declared a Christian celebration as an official holiday nor allowed the protesting reporter to live. He would have probably been shot on the spot.