Heartfelt images of Middle Eastern people and children engaging in the magic of Christmas, despite the hardship around them.
We all love the decorations, the tonne of food and Santa's presence at Christmas time. The internet is often flooded with grand Christmas trees that, literally, glare at us through our screens, and a heap of perfectly wrapped gifts stacked under each tree. In the Arab world, this image isn't often associated with our lifestyles. We're often viewed through a darker lens of oppression and cruelty. But among ourselves, we are known to be joyous people who launch at any opportunity of celebration. Christmas bliss is no exception. Despite the heartbreak and horror observed in countries like Iraq and Syria, Christmas for the Christian minorities proved to be an attainable holiday filled with faith, hope and festivities. The war ridden countries were captured on camera featuring the triumph of freedom over oppression on the special day. Also captured in moments of celebration were Egypt, Lebanon, and Turkey. Who said Arabs don't celebrate Christmas?
1. Mass - Damascus, Syria. Photo by Youssef Badawy/European Pressphoto Agency.2. Christmas Eve mass - Istanbul, Turkey. Photo by Yassin Akgul/Getty Images.3. Mass - Aleppo, Syria. Photo by AFP/Getty Images.
4. Christmas day mass - Mosul, Iraq. Photo by Getty Images.
5. Student dressed as Santa - Najaf, Iraq. Photo by Haidar Hamdani/Getty Images
6. Christmas Day mass for displaced people - Irbil, Iraq. Photo by Chris Mcgrath/Getty Images.
7. Christmas celebrations among the ruins of Homs - Homs, Syria. Photo by Omar Sanadiki/Reuters.
8. Christmas Eve mass - Istanbul, Turkey. Photo by Emrah Gurel.
9. Christmas decorations in the streets of Beirut - Lebanon. Photo by Beirut Night Life.
10. Girl dressed as Santa handing out presents - Cairo, Egypt. Photo by Robabkia Photography.