On The Ground

Iraq's Christians say they are victims of expropriation, intimidation

Pascale Warda, head of the Hammurabi organisation, which helps disenfranchised Christians in Iraq.
Pascale Warda, head of the Hammurabi organisation, which helps disenfranchised Christians in Iraq. © FRANCE 24 screen grab

Christians in Iraq say they are the victims of expropriation and intimidation by armed criminals. They are supported by humanitarian organisations, but there is a feeling of helplessness in the face of a perceived weak rule of law in the country.

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Nabel George, a Christian from Baghdad, travelled overseas in 2014 for medical reasons. When he returned a year later, his house was occupied by armed men. 

"When I returned, I realised that my house had been sold and resold several times. I contacted the highest authorities, but nothing. They stayed. There was no result."

It took years of legal battles for George, a university professor, to reclaim his property – a rare success in such cases.

"For these cases, which affect the property of Christians, the criminals who take their homes are, or pretend to be, well connected. Sometimes it's only to intimidate Christians, but there are threats and it instills fear," said Sofyan Hussein Ali, a Baghdad lawyer.

For Pascale Warda, head of the Hammurabi organisation, these expropriations particularly affect minorities and are indicative of Iraq's weak rule of law. 

Many of Iraq's Christians claim that government figures are behind the expropriations. With corruption rampant across the country, some consider legal action a lost cause.

Click on the video player above to watch the full FRANCE 24 report.

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