Mosul (Agenzia Fides) - 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. The initiative, carried out by the non-governmental organization "Sawaed Mosuliya", made it possible to clear the rubble that was still inside and around the church after the devastation in the years when Mosul was under the control of jihadist militias of the self-styled Islamic State (Daesh).
Mosul, which was freed from the control of the jihadist militias in September 2017, is at the center of several redevelopment projects that have also been sponsored by international bodies - including the UN and the European Union - and above all the aim of the reconstruction of damaged monuments and places of worship to try to revitalize the pluralistic, multi-ethnic and multi-religious identity of the northern Iraqi urban entity.
After the years of the jihadist occupation of Mosul, and more than a year and a half after its liberation, a "Mass for Peace" was celebrated by Syrian Catholic Archbishop Boutros Moshi (see Fides, 1/3/2019) in the church of St. Thomas.
The reconstruction of the Christian place of worship, severely damaged, but not destroyed during the jihadist occupation, was part of the redevelopment program of monuments, churches and mosques initiated by UNESCO, and financed mainly thanks to a contribution of 50 million dollars promised by the United Arab Emirates.
In an interview with 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 in the province of Nineveh after the end of the jihadist occupation. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 28/10/2020)