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What's Christmas Like in Iraq?

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I don't think anyone will be having a very merry Christmas in Iraq.

First of all, Muslims typically do not celebrate Christmas.

But then, of course, for almost five years now, the Iraqis have had to share their country with the Western occupiers -- most of whom are Americans, and most of whom are used to celebrating Christmas in a big, glitzy way.

Imagine being an Iraqi child. Your life has not been easy for as long as you can remember. The soldiers may have broken into your home, roughed up your family members, and taken your father away for no apparent reason. Blackwater or KBR contractors may have shot your dog or raped your sister.

And, once a year, those same soldiers and mercenaries put on fuzzy red hats, sing strange but catchy songs, and shout the odd words "Merry Christmas". Some of them give out extra candy to the Iraqi kids. Some of them seem drunk. Most of them seem happy, or else they're trying to be happy. Probably the latter.

What is an Iraqi youngster to think?

Can anyone be truly happy in Iraq this December 25?

There is no safety there, neither for soldier nor for child.

There is no security there of any kind for any civilian.

There is no real freedom there, despite what George W. Bush might tell us time after tiresome time.

For most Iraqis, life was better with Saddam.

And our troops must spend another Christmas thousands of miles away from their families.

Enough is enough.

We cannot afford to wait to get a Democrat in the White House. Besides, as we've learned in 2007, having Democrats in power is no guarantee of change.

Nevertheless, I have to repeat the necessity that Congress must grow a backbone and must finally take a firm stand to end the war and bring our troops home so that they can have a truly merry Christmas in 2008.

But I won't hold my breath.

Meantime, I wish the troops a happy holiday season (as happy as it can be under the circumstances), and I thank them for their brave service to this country. Most of them are just trying to do their jobs and cope with the horrific situation they've been forced into.

To Congress: You're on Santa's naughty list. No Christmas presents -- or reelections -- for you until you earn them.

To the folks in the White House: A big black lump of coal for you. But please don't burn it as fuel. You've already done enough damage to the environment.

And to everyone else: Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Solstice, Happy Festivus, Happy Kwanzaa, etc., etc., and a happy and healthy New Year.

Peace on earth and goodwill to all. (Hey, I can dream, can't I?)

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Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views (more...)
 

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