The Mandaeans have suffered many victims - Photo: iraqwho.com
17. Februar 2006
The remaining 13,000 Mandaeans in the large towns of Iraq and in the south of the country are in acute danger. There radical Muslims are stirring up the population against people of other religions. Christians and Mandaeans are victims of extremist attacks. While the Christians may find refuge in Iraqi Kurdistan in the north of the country, the small Mandaean religious community, whose religion goes back to John the Baptist, is being helped by nobody. 17,000 of the 30,000 Mandaeans have already fled for the most part into the neighbouring countries. The Mandaeans have been declared outlaws, so the criminals have nothing to fear. There are dreadful examples to show that even children and young people are not being spared. So a seven-year old boy was burnt alive in September 2003 while a mob filled with hatred chanted: "Kill the dirty heathen!” In August 2005 the teenagers Nwar Menim Mohy and Nwar Al-Khamesi had to die just because they were Mandaeans. They were both just 15 years old.
Fearful that they might be abducted and raped Mandaean women hardly dare leave the house. But there are still many reports of Mandaean women being kidnapped while shopping or on the way to the university or school, being attacked by many men. Mandaean families receive threatening letters calling on them to leave the country or convert to Islam. Many Mandaeans have been arrested, dispossessed or fired for no reason at all.
No future for the "Children of John the Baptist”?
In the whole world there are no more than about 60,000 Mandaeans. Half of them come from Iraq. There may well be some 10,000 in Iran and 20,000 in the diaspora in the USA, Canada, Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand. In Iraq aggression against the Mandaeans increased with the accession to power of Saddam Hussein in 1979. Thousands of them died in 1991-1993 in the dictator’s campaign of destruction against the Shia population in the marsh regions between Basra Amara and Nasirija. Here the centres of Mandaean culture were destroyed.
The most recent wave of violence is so threatening because all Mandaeans there are have to flee for their lives. This was urgently recommended them in 2003 by US military personnel because they could not guarantee the safety of the Mandaean and the Christian minorities. Their spokesman in Germany, Dr Qais Saidi, could also only give an extremely depressing report. He went to Syria at the beginning of 2006 to find out the position of the refugees suffering there. They only receive humanitarian aid if they convert to Islam.
Flight into exile
Like the Huguenots in Germany the Mandaeans need refuge in a safe and tolerant exile so that their religion with its teaching, language and traditions going back two thousand years does not get lost for ever. The Mandaeans, among them traditionally many gold and silversmiths, well educated academics, engineers, doctors and highly qualified craftsmen, urgently need help.
Germany should not close its eyes to the distress of this small religious community, whose existence is threatened. So the Society for Threatened Peoples (GfbV) appeals to the German government and the governments of neighbouring countries not to leave the Mandaeans alone now. Please support our appeal to take a contingent of this religious community by signing the enclosed short letter to the German Chancellor Angela Merkel.