The Christians Fight for their Land in the Nineveh Plains

March 15, 2019

The Christians of the Nineveh Plains (Iraq) are reacting against a government project to lay hands on the distribution of the region’s land at the risk of Islamizing a region traditionally marked by a strong Christian presence.

In a letter to the Iraqi Prime Minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi, quoted by Fides on March 6, 2019, Archbishop Yohanna Petros Moshe warned that the new administrative measures to promote Muslim settlements in the Nineveh Plains in order to replace the Christian populations that fled the Islamic State should be suspended “before it is too late.”

For the past several weeks, the Christian communities still present have been worried about a project known by the suggestive name of Sultan City and intended for the region of Bartella that was traditionally full of Christians.

This real estate project plans to take farm lands belonging to Christian families in the zone now in the hands of the Shiite militias that are considered to be friendly with Iran.

Although on paper a good number of the houses to be built will still be reserved for the local Christian populations, the Christians are denouncing a plan intended to ensure the Shabak Shiite minority a monopoly in the acquisition of future new homes. 

The project was also denounced on the same day by Dawood Baba, the representative of the Syro-Chaldean Council of the Nineveh Plains, who demanded that the decisions of the federal Court be respected; for the time being, these decisions forbid any modification of the land distribution in the case of a demographic evolution.

Militant Islam Behind This Project

We are looking at a far-off but foreseeable consequence of the upheavals caused by the war in Iraq. Despite the reproaches it deserved, the Ba’athist government ensured a certain amount of protection for Christians and repressed Islam’s “religious” attempts in the country. After the war in Iraq in 2003, the Ba’athist party was dissolved, leading to a profound disorganization that served the purposes of Islamism.

It is important to know that the Muslims have collective duties besides the five pillars of Islam that are individual. Some of these duties are: to have (Muslim) leaders, to have (Muslim) judges, jihad, caliphates, to command good and forbid evil (for all men). A Muslim community that does not possess all of these elements or does not seek to obtain them is at fault. 

These are the profound reasons that explain the birth of ISIS. It has at last been conquered, but the seeds that gave birth to it are still present at every level. This community advocacy, heightened by recent events, is therefore going to rear its head with another pattern, that the Eastern Christians know only too well after centuries of experience: progressive strangulation and reduction to the condition of dhimmis.

But we can certainly provide the support of our prayers for Christianity in Iraq in this new struggle for its life.