Muslims restore a Catholic church in Mosul, but the “return” of Christians remains uncertain
Young volunteers, who mostly belong to the Muslim community in Mosul, have been supporting the cleaning and restoration work of the Syrian Catholic Church of Mar Toma (St. Thomas) over the past few days.
After the devastating years of governance of the Islamic State (Daesh), the outside of Mar Toma was damaged, the interior was full of rubble. The non-governmental organisation “Sawaed Mosuliya” chose to clean the church with the help of volunteers.
The reconstruction of the Christian place of worship was part of the redevelopment programme of monuments, churches and mosques initiated by UNESCO, and financed mainly thanks to a contribution of fifty million dollars promised by the United Arab Emirates.
In an interview with the A24 news agency, the Syrian Catholic priest, Raed Adel, praised the generosity of the young Muslims who work side by side to give the city new impetus and also convince Christians who fled during the period of occupation to return to their homes.
In recent years, the return of displaced Christians to Mosul and traditional Christian populated areas in the Nineveh Plain has always been a priority by Iraqi authorities at both national and local levels.
Nevertheless, various studies on the processes of return even before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic have unanimously shown that only a small number of Christian refugees have returned to their homes in Mosul and the province of Nineveh after the end of the jihadist occupation.