Lawsuit filed against Najaf Municipality for offering ancient Christian cemetery for investment

NAJAF, Iraq — The announcement by Najaf Municipality regarding an investment opportunity in the Manathira District in the area of the Christian cemetery has ignited a heated debate among citizens.

The Christian cemetery, dating back some 1,800 years, is situated in Umm Khashm, Al-Hira, Al-Manathira District, south of Najaf. Housing the remains of Christian citizens and containing artifacts and coins spanning two millennia, the cemetery spans an estimated area of 90 dunums.

Najaf Municipality’s call for tenders to develop a residential complex within the cemetery has been decried as illegal by activists, arguing that the land falls under the jurisdiction of the Manathira Municipality.

Iyad al-Zarfi, the Mayor of Manathira District, affirmed that they are actively monitoring the case. He directed the Manathira Municipality to pursue legal action against the Najaf Municipality over the tender.

“We have officially raised objections with the Governor of Najaf, Majid al-Waeli, as this action was taken without notifying us and is considered illegal,” al-Zarfi added.

Yasser al-Jubouri, a resident of Manathira, emphasized that the cemetery is an archaeological site and contains hundreds of graves.

“Instead of preserving historical monuments, we were surprised by the offer of the cemetery as an investment opportunity,” he said. We call on the relevant authorities to halt this project immediately.”