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Trader erects tallest Christmas tree in Baghdad

BAGHDAD – A Muslim businessman has erected the tallest Christmas tree in Baghdad as a show of solidarity with Christians during the holiday season.

Yassir Saad told The Associated Press on Thursday that the initiative aims at “joining our Christian brothers in their holiday celebrations and helping Iraqis forget their anguish, especially the war in Mosul,” where Iraqi forces are battling the Islamic State group.

The 85-foot tall (26-meter) artificial tree, with a diameter of 33 feet (10 meters), has been erected in the center of an amusement park in the Iraqi capital. Saad says the initiative cost around $24,000 or more than P1 million.

“This tree represents love and peace,” said teacher Saba Ismael, as her visiting students took pictures in front of the tree. “I wish all Iraqi Christians could return to Iraq and live normal and peaceful lives.”

Iraq’s Christian community has steadily dwindled since the 2003 US-led invasion. Christians have been targeted by Islamic extremists on several occasions, and have also fled the country for better economic opportunities. (AP)

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