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Journal for the Study of Religion

versão On-line ISSN 2413-3027
versão impressa ISSN 1011-7601


MONZER, Nora  e  OHLMANN, Philipp. Religion and Migration in Iraq: Investigating the Reasons for Return of Internally Displaced Christians to Baghdeda. J. Study Relig. [online]. 2023, vol.36, n.2, pp.1-32. ISSN 2413-3027.

The emergence of the terrorist group, Daesh in 2014 and the international military campaign against it caused both a humanitarian crisis and mass displacement in Iraq. About 5.8 million people became internally displaced, and as of 2021, 1.2 million of them still remain in displacement. This article engages with the question of what motivates people to return from displacement to their area of origin. It investigates the role that religion played in the decision of internally displaced Christians to return to Baghdeda in the Ninewa Plain, Iraq's largest Christian town. Based on qualitative interviews, the article examines the factors influencing people's decisions to return. We find that religion contributes to an array of pull factors positively influencing the decision to return, within the nexus of other considerations such as security, reconstruction, and economic opportunities. Religion was found to contribute to the return decision through the respondents' Christian identity, the encouragement to return by religious leaders, and the reconstruction efforts led by the churches. However, while these factors contributed to motivating people to return, these alone are not sufficient to motivate Christians to stay in Baghdeda in the long-term if other important conditions like the security situation and economic opportunities are not in place.

Palavras-chave : Iraq; internally displaced people; Christians; humanitarian aid; ethno-religious identity; conflict; Ninewa Plain.

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