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12-27-07, 08:12 AM #1
Iraqi Santa rides around Green Zone
A man dressed as Santa and riding a motor scooter zipped around the Green Zone, reaching into his bag to give candies and Arabic bibles to passersby. His red suit made a stark contrast with the bland khaki and gray surroundings. I caught up with him between the blast walls near the British embassy and the military combat hospital. An Iraqi Christian named Qusay (declining to give the rest of his name), he said he is a guard at a private company and got the idea on Christmas day to borrow a friend's Santa outfit. Christmas is a big deal in Baghdad, where there are thousands of Christians and even some Muslims who mark the day. Santa here is called "Baba Noel." But Qusay was spreading more than good cheer, passing out the bibles and an Arabic DVD about Jesus he says he got from a church--proselytizing that could trigger a violent response on streets outside the protected Green Zone. "It's for my own joy and to make others happy," he said. Along the route, Green Zone checkpoint guards asked him to remove his white beard so they could check his ID.
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