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Iraqis Christians observe sombre Easter

Iraqi Christians observed a sombre Easter Sunday, praying for an end to postwar chaos and uncertainty, as a first convoy of food aid reached Baghdad.

While Christians prayed, tens of thousands of Shi'ite Muslims, Iraq's majority population, beat their chests as they streamed toward the holy central city of Kerbala, in a pilgrimage banned by Saddam for nearly a quarter of a century.

Dozens of tents were set up along the 80 km route where Shi'ite groups scooped up water from oil drums and handed it to pilgrims to sustain them on their tough walk. The pilgrimage reaches its climax on tomorrow.

In Baghdad, the mood was anxious as hundreds of Christians, dressed in the best clothes they could find, went to church to pray on the day they believe Jesus rose from the dead.

"We just want an end to killing. We have had enough," said Suhail Elias Kusto, 50, weeping at the Lady of Our Salvation Catholic church in Baghdad. She said her nephew was killed soon after the US-led invasion began on March 20.

The mood was also subdued among the hundreds of people who crammed into the small St Paul's church in the northern city of Mosul, where relations are tense between Arabs and Kurds.

"Now we must all work together to rebuild our society and also promote the role of Christianity. The responsibility on us is great," said Fr Jalil Mansoor David, who led the service.

US troops attended Easter services at camps across Iraq and in Kuwait, where reinforcements are waiting to deploy.

"We probably never thought we would be celebrating Easter in the desert, but God is with us and He will be with us wherever we go," Sergeant Major Curtis Davis, a Baptist preacher, told a handful of soldiers at Camp New Jersey in Kuwait.


Christians flock to Easter services in Iraq; Many fear future (AP)
Iraqi Christians rejoice and worry (AP)
Iraqi Christians fear being lumped with US troops (AFP)
Iraqi Christians anxious over future (AP)
Iraqi Bishop Pleads for Religious Peace (AP)
Iraqi Christians Worry About Shiite Surge (AP)
Iraqi Christians wary of Islamists (Christian Science Monitor)
With war in Iraq seemingly won, how can the peace be won? (Catholic News Service)
Friends recall enduring faith, spirit of NBC-TV reporter David Bloom (Catholic News Service)
Caritas to deliver $500,000 worth of medical, food assistance to Iraq (Catholic News Service)
Mourners pay tribute to newspaper columnist killed in Iraq (Catholic News Service)
Caritas Australia helps the relief effort in Baghdad (Caritas Australia)
[NZ] Caritas launches appeal for Iraqi victims (New Zealand Catholic)
Thousands Attend Easter Mass in Northern Iraq (Reuters)
Iraq: Is there Danger of an Islamic Fundamentalist Revival? (Vidimus Dominum)
NBC War Correspondent's 'Sincere Faith' (Charisma News)
Baghdad: eyewitness report from Christian peacekeeper: Jerry Levin (Independent Catholic News)

22 Apr 2003