Shafaq News/ Only 16 families participated in the new year's celebrations held at Maysan's "Our Lady Chaldean Church" yesterday, Saturday, the representative of the Christian community in the southern governorate, Jalal Daniel, said on Sunday.
"Last year, 25 families attended the event," he said in a statement to Shafaq News Agency.
"We hope that the Christian community manages to recover their usurped land this year," he added, "these properties are originally owned by the Church."
Jalal said he contacted a committee the powerful Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr formed to address this problem and the latter promised to visit the governorate soon.
Iraq is overwhelmingly Muslim but hosts several ancient Christian communities, who now number an estimated 200,000 to 300,000 people from the 1.5 million who lived in the country before the U.S. invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.
There are 14 officially recognised Christian sects in Iraq. Most live in Baghdad, the plains of northern Nineveh governorate and Iraq's self-run Kurdistan region.
Chaldeans are the most numerous of Iraq’s Christians, up to 80% of the group. The Chaldean Church is Eastern Rite affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church but allowed to keep its traditions and rituals.
It originated from the Church of the East in Mesopotamia, which emerged in the early centuries after Jesus Christ.
The church is based in Baghdad and headed by Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako. Most Chaldeans live in Iraq, the United States, Iran and Lebanon. They speak a version of Aramaic, a Semitic language spoken at the time of Jesus. There are 110 Chaldean churches across Iraq.