Muslim Businessman Chooses Huge Christmas Tree To Support Iraq's Devastated Christian Community

The number of Christians still living in Iraq is now thought to be as low as 200,000.Reuters

Though the war with Islamic State is not yet over, Christians and Muslims in Iraq are looking forward to the day when they can live in peace, side-by-side again.

A humungous Christmas tree – 86-foot-tall – chosen by a Muslim businessman is now proudly on display in Iraq's Baghdad, in a show of solidarity with the country's persecuted Christian minority, AP reports.

Yassir Saad told the news agency the sentiment was about "joining our Christian brothers in their holiday celebrations and helping Iraqis forget their anguish, especially the war in Mosul".

The persecution of Christians and other religious minorities by Islamic State has been labelled a genocide by the US administration, European Parliament, UK Parliament and Council of Europe.

When ISIS first overran the Nineveh Plain more than two years ago, an area once known as Iraq's Christian heartland, hundreds of thousands of Christians fled; some to areas within Iraq, but others across the border into neighbouring Jordan, Lebanon and even further afield.

The number of Christians still living in Iraq is now thought to be as low as 200,000. In 2003, there were 1.5 million.

Isaac Six, advocacy director at International Christian Concern (ICC), told Christian Today that the Christian community in Iraq has been "decimated over the past thirteen years."

"Of the relatively small number who remain, hope is in very short supply," he added.

"ICC has been working since August of 2014 with many of these communities to provide relief and assistance, and what we see now, even with ISIS slowly being pushed out of the country, is still a tremendous amount of fear that it's only a matter of time until they will have to leave the region all-together."