Baghdadis found a white mantle over their city, joyfully welcoming the unusual weather phenomenon at a time of protests and violence. in her message, the Iraqi Church expressed hope that this might usher in good relations, peace, stability, reconstruction and progress.
Baghdad – This morning, Baghdad woke up under a blanket of snow, a very unusual thing for the Iraqi capital, a consequence of climate change, and a major variation from its traditional high temperatures, desert climate and long periods of drought.
The unusual weather phenomenon captured the imagination of the Iraqi Chaldean Church, who posted pictures of the city covered in a white mantle.
In her message to the faithful, Church leaders describe “a rare and beautiful scene” experienced overnight, when “a blanket of snow covered” large areas of the capital “including the headquarters of the patriarchate”.
“Our question is: Will the snow purify Iraqis’ hearts and remove the accumulations of 17 years of conflict, corruption, and poor services?”
In her morning’s prayers, the Church focused on hope that the violence will end and a “path open on a clean page of peace, stability, reconstruction and progress” for Iraq.
“May [Iraq’s] political leaders reach this goal!” the message read, a reference to the serious political and social upheaval the country has experienced since October, when people took to the streets to protest against corruption and the country’s economic crisis.
Since then, the authorities have tried to curb the protests, but in the resulting clashes more than 500 people have died.
The recent appointment of a new prime minister has created further divisions (and sparked more violence) pitting the supporters of al-Sadr (who backs the new cabinet), and protesters in Baghdad’s Tharir square, the hub of the protest movement, who want to continue their struggle.
Meanwhile, people continue to die. Yesterday, one person was killed in Nasiriyah, when university security guards fired on a group of people who were trying to force their way into the university.
Given this situation, some hope that the snow may bring some peace and quiet, a bit of the Christmas spirit. “The atmosphere is beautiful … people are very happy because this is the first-time snow fall in Iraq.”
Snow is abundant in the mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan but rare in Baghdad. The last time the capital saw the white stuff was in 2008.
By midday, most of the snow had melted and temperatures are expected to rise to seasonal averages, around 20 ºC. As one passer-by put it, “Life now goes back to normal.”