Merry Christmas: Photos from around the world

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Mideast Iran Christmas
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Mideast Iran Christmas
A female Iranian Christian lights candle at the Saint Mary Chaldean- Assyrian Catholic church, on the Christmas eve, in downtown Tehran, Iran, Monday, Dec. 24, 2012. Iran's constitution gives protected status to Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians, but many religious minorities sense growing pressures from the Islamic state. Iran has claimed as a point of pride that it makes space for other religions. It reserves parliament seats for Jewish and Christian lawmakers and permits churches, Roman Catholic, Armenian Orthodox and others, as well as synagogues and Zoroastrian temples that are under sporadic watch by authorities. Religious celebrations are allowed, but no political messages or overtones are tolerated. In past years, authorities have staged arrests on Christians and other religious minorities. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)