Iraqis shop for Christmas and New Year decorations and gifts at central Baghdad's Shorja market on December 20, 2014 in the lead up to the Christian religious festival celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. AFP PHOTO / SABAH ARAR
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Yaasub Ali stands inside his shop in Baghdad's Shorjah market surrounded by nearly empty shelves cleared of decorations by Iraqis seeking holiday cheer after a year of relentless violence.In the narrow market, which dates to the Abbassid era more than 700 years ago, Iraqis peruse Christmas and New Year's decorations ranging from wreaths and ornaments to red-and-white Santa Claus outfits and figurines.Additionally, this Christmas and New Year's do not fall during Muharram or Arbaeen, when Shiite Iraqis mourn the death of Imam Hussein, one of the most revered figures in their faith, and holiday decorations are discouraged.Ali Abdulzahra, a Shiite from the shrine city of Najaf carrying two massive bags of decorations, agrees.
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