Iraqi Christians demand reconstruction of religious sites destroyed by ISIS
Iraqi Christians are reportedly demanding the reconstruction of religious sites that the Islamic State destroyed when it took over large swathes of land in the area in June 2014 and forced the believers to flee their hometowns.
On May 16, Christian church leaders voiced out their concerns that terrorism could return to their land, thus they are demanding that "the areas of the Nineveh Plains be protected by the United Nations and enjoy autonomy." They also want to rebuild the monasteries, churches, and other religious sites that the ISIS reduced to ruins during its rampage in the region, Al-Monitor relays.
SIS had occupied the Mar Behnam monastery in 2014 and blew it up in 2015. The ancient Mar Mattai monastery, on the other hand, was also besieged and desecrated by the militants.
Christian parliament member Yonadam Kanna told Al-Monitor that he restored the road leading to the Mar Mattai Monastery after the Nineveh Plains were liberated from ISIS, as the terrorists had blocked people from coming to the place. He also said volunteers have removed the words that the jihadists engraved on its walls and renovated the monks' rooms which were once used to detain civilians.
"IS destroyed about 40% of the Mar Behnam Monastery; this calls for government support and funding to turn these sites again into places of worship and religious tourism centers," Kanna told Al-Monitor. "The government needs to develop a strategic program to restore Mar Behnam and Mar Mattai in conjunction with the return of visitors."
Earlier this month, Fox News reported that the construction of homes for displaced Iraqi Christians had already started. An organization called the Nineveh Reconstruction Committee used funding from the Aid to the Church in Need to spearhead the project and build the first 100 of around 13,000 houses set to be built in the area.
The repair and rebuild of the first 100 homes in the Assyrian towns is expected to be completed at the end of summer.