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June 3, 2018 11:12 am

Shi’a Cleric Muqtada al-Sadr: Jews Can Return to Iraq — if They Show Loyalty

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Iraqi Shi’a cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, May 17, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Alaa al-Marjani / File.

Shi’a cleric Muqtada al-Sadr said on Saturday that Jews could return to Iraq if they “demonstrated loyalty,” the Hebrew news site Walla reported.

The 44-year-old Sadr heads the Saairun coalition, which won the most seats in the Iraqi parliamentary election last month.

His comment on Jews came in response to a question asked by a supporter, the Walla report said.

In the aftermath of the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, Sadr’s Mahdi Army targeted American troops.

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However, Sadr is now viewed as a potential ally in the effort to limit Iran’s influence in Iraq.

Around 150,000 Jews lived in Iraq — largely in Baghdad — in 1947, the year before Israel’s establishment.

Persecution by the Iraqi government prompted many Jews to flee the country between 1948 and 1951, mostly by airlift to Israel.

There was a further wave of emigration following the 1967 Six-Day War, and the Jewish population of Iraq is now estimated to total less than ten people.

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