Baghdad (Agenzia Fides) - The Iraqi government has appointed an inter-ministerial committee to work on the suggestions and proposals that emerged during Pope Francis' recent visit to Iraq. This is reported by the Arab newspaper Al Araby Al Jadeed, citing generically and anonymously "high-level sources" of the Iraqi government.
The "recommendations" contained in the dossier at the center of the work of the Government Committee - reports the source cited, also referring to the conversations of Pope Francis with Iraqi President Barham Salih and Prime Minister Mustafa al Kadhimi during the papal visit - aim to suggest solutions to problems of security, economic sustainability and post-war reconstruction that weigh in particular on the condition of Christian communities and on other social components, especially in the governorates of Nineveh and Baghdad. The government source cited by the UK-based newspaper refers in particular to the problems relating to security and attributed to the persistence of militias organized on a sectarian basis still operating in the Nineveh Governorate, an area of historical roots of the indigenous Christian communities. The dossier that the government Committee is studying includes the question of real estate illegally seized in recent years from Christian families forced by conflict and violence to move to other areas of the country or to emigrate abroad.
At the beginning of 2021, as reported by Agenzia Fides (see Fides, 4/1/2021), the Iraqi Shiite leader Muqtada al Sadr (head of the Sadist political group that enjoys strong representation in the Baghdad Parliament) had ordered the creation of an ad hoc Committee, in charge of collecting and verifying information and complaints regarding cases of illegal expropriation of real estate suffered in recent years by Christian owners in different regions of the country. The decision was made known in a statement indicating the names of Muqtada al Sadr's collaborators chosen as members of the Committee, as well as the e-mail addresses and WhatsApp accounts to which Christians could send the property documents. concerning real estate - houses and land - illegally appropriated in recent years by other people or groups of people.
The intent of the operation sponsored by the Shiite leader - the statement read - was to restore justice, putting an end to violations affecting the property rights of "Christian brothers", even when they were committed by members of the Sadrist movement itself. The request to report cases of illegal expropriations suffered was also extended to the families of Christians who have left the country in recent years, with the request to send the reports of the usurpations before the end of next Ramadan.
The phenomenon of the illegal theft of Christian homes has also been able to take hold thanks to connivance and cover-ups by corrupt and dishonest officials, who put themselves at the service of individual impostors and organized groups of fraudsters (see Fides, 23/7/2015). The "legalized" theft of the properties of Christian families is closely related to the mass exodus of Iraqi Christians, following the US-led military interventions to overthrow the Saddam Hussein regime. Many fraudsters seized homes and land that were left unattended, counting on the easy prediction that none of the owners would claim their properties again.
In this context, for his part, the priest Albert Hisham, from the communications office of the Chaldean Patriarchate, questioned by Al Araby Al-Jadeed has reported that until now no precise and official news has been given on the restitution to the rightful owners of assets illegally stolen from Iraqi Christian families, and the procedures and provisions put in place by the Baghdad government have not yet been disclosed. (GV) Agenzia Fides, 30/3/2021)