A city official in Iraq claims that almost 70 percent of Christians living in Baghdad have had their property illegally confiscated since the beginning of the Iraq War, according to Independent Catholic News. Since the beginning of the American invasion, over a million people in Iraq, including two-thirds of the country's Christians, left the Middle Eastern nation expecting to return after the conflict, reports ICN.
"Almost 70 percent of Baghdad's Christian homes have been illegally seized," Mohammed al-Rubai, a member of Baghdad's municipal council, said in an interview with Al-Mada TV station. "These houses belonged to Christians who fled from Baghdad, seeking refuge from violent attacks targeting them and their homes. ... The area's most affected where in the al-Wahda neighborhood of Baghdad."
The figure comes months after the top court in Iraq announced in February that it would begin investigating the illegal seizure of Christian property in Iraq after the 2003 invasion, according to al-Araby. In a statement in February, the Supreme Judicial Council said that "all properties that were confiscated, seized or had their ownership transferred or appropriated on ethnic, religious or sectarian grounds, or those seized without remuneration, will be investigated. The offenders will be held accountable and the victims will be given justice."
In his television appearance, al-Rubai seemed skeptical of the possibility of Christians being able to return to their homes or to prove ownership, saying that in many cases "the title deed documents have been falsified and the new title deeds have been lodged with the real estate registry. Many properties had been given illegally to other Iraqi citizens. Thus, it is possible that both parties [the original and new owners] can possess legally registered title deeds to the same property."