Kanna said, “The ownership of many Christian properties is changed in the Iraqi real estate registry and transferred to armed groups via bribery. This act of fraud costs $10,000.”
The emigration of Christians from Iraq increased after the US invasion in April 2003 in response to the threat posed by Sunni and Shiite Islamic militias. As a result, their numbers dropped from 1.5 million to about 850,000 people in 2012. This number, too, is likely to have significantly dropped over the past few years, especially after the Islamic State took over a third of the country in June 2014 and marked the houses of Christians with the Arabic letter “n” for “nasara,” a pejorative Arabic term for Christians, for confiscation. There are no reliable statistics on the Christians still in the country today.
Shakhwan Abdullah, the parliamentary security and defense committee’s rapporteur, told Al-Monitor, “The committee has addressed a letter to Iraqi Prime Minister Abadi, asking him to open an investigation regarding the seized homes to find out which parties are behind it and prosecute the perpetrators.”
Abdullah did not mention when the letter was sent, but said, “Abadi promised to open an investigation to determine the parties seizing the homes of Christians and falsifying official papers in the real estate department.” He noted, “The perpetrators are not individuals; they are influential parties in the government trying to exploit their position.”
However, Abadi’s government has yet to give a serious response to the calls by clerics and Christian officials for them to protect Christians and urge them to stay in Iraq.
Meanwhile, Abadi, who met Pope Francis at the Vatican on Feb. 10, seems to be making promises but not actually implementing them. “Our Christian brothers in Iraq are the center of our pride and love and we are keen to take care of them, protect them and make sure they are free to practice their religious rituals,” Abadi told the pope.
These words were a mere courtesy, and Christians are no longer looking for reassurance. They are now waiting for practical measures to punish those who seized their homes and sought to displace them.
(Christianity image via Shutterstock)