Scores of buildings and properties stolen in Iraq from Christians and members of another minority group have been restored and given back to their rightful owners.
More than 120 houses, factories, shops and parcels of land expropriated by force or deception by gangs were returned to Christians and Sabeans (a religious minority indigenous to Iraq) following the completion of a review of documents that proved ownership.
The review was conducted by the Committee for the Restitution of Christian and Sabean Property, which returned the properties to the control of their legal owners in an official act of restitution on 21 February.
The committee was set up in early 2021 by Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose Sadrist Movement holds the largest number of seats in Iraq’s parliament. Al-Sadr said the initiative aimed to restore justice and put an end to the violations of property rights of his “Christian brothers”.
In a statement, the committee expressed hope for a “prompt return” of all displaced Iraqis, whether Christian, Sabean or others, after completing “the restitution” of all their properties “within legal parameters and the improvement of security conditions”.
An estimated 75% of Iraq’s Christians (around 1.5 million in 1990) have left the country in the last 30 years because of anti-Christian hostility and violence, which began after the 1990-91 Gulf War and intensified after the US-led invasion of 2003 and again after the emergence in 2014 of Islamic State (IS – also known as ISIS, ISIL or Daesh).