A campaign is underway in Iraq to help Christians lay claim to houses and properties which had been taken from them over the past two decades.
By Vatican News staff writer
Some 38 illegally-expropriated houses and lands in Iraq have already been returned to their legitimate Christian owners.
The effort forms part of a campaign promoted by a prominent Shia politician and cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, leader of the Sadrist Movement.
The announcement was made by Hakim al Zamili in a statement issued to Iraqi media outlets, and reported on by Fides news agency.
End property infringements
In his statement, Zamili said a large portion of the returned property had been illegally expropriated from Iraqi Christians and Mandeans by local militias, armed groups, and influential families.
According to the statement, the campaign’s goal is to reestablish justice and put an end to infringements on the property rights of “our brother Christians”, even if the perpetrators were members of the Sadrist Movement.
Christians who have fled abroad are also welcome to put forward their cases.
The theft of Christian-owned property began after the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003, as militia groups sprung up in the power vacuum.
Fides news agency says the “legalized theft” of property is closely connected to the mass exodus of Iraqi Christians.
Corrupt officials often teamed up with individuals and criminal groups to carry out the operations.
The Sadrist Movement, which holds 34 seats in Iraq’s parliament, set up an ad hoc committee at the start of 2021 to collect and evaluate petitions from those whose property had been stolen.
At the time, Chaldean Patriarch, Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako, thanked Muqtada al-Sadr for the initiative that seeks to put an end to injustices suffered by Christians.