ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) - Christians across the Kurdistan Region on Monday evening began to observe Christmas Eve, marking the annual celebration of the birth of Jesus.
There are an estimated 2.2 billion followers of the Christian faith across the globe, many of whom take part in Christmas ceremonies.
A large number of those of them living in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region gathered in local churches in the evening to celebrate the event. Their Muslim neighbors often send congratulatory messages on the holiday.
The Kurdistan Region has a total population of 5.9 million people, with some 100,000 of them having been born into the roughly 2,000-year-old religion.
The Christian community in Iraq has, for decades, suffered from prosecution for their faith. In 2014, when the so-called Islamic State (IS) emerged in northern, western, and central Iraq, tens of thousands of Christians were forced to flee their homes, with many seeking refuge in the Kurdistan Region.
Below are some images showing them celebrating Christmas in the province of Sulaimani.
Editing by John J. Catherine
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this report wrongly stated that there are about 300,000 Christians in the Kurdistan Region. That number has been changed to 100,000 to reflect the correct statistic.