Mandaeans in Iraq need better protection
STP Middle East Consultant in Baghdad
The Mandaeans in Iraq are still in need of protection and support. In the scope of direct talks with the Middle East Consultant of the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP), the leader of the Mandaeans, Ganzevra Sattar Jabbar Hilo Al-Zahrony, and several other Mandaean dignitaries appealed to the Iraqi government not to cut back its support for the small ancient religious community – but to include them when filling political offices. It was also stated that, when visiting Iraq, German politicians should not forget to meet up with representatives of the Mandaeans.
As the Mandaean dignitaries emphasized during the talks at the residence of their leader on Easter Saturday, it would be important to have Mandaean ministers in Iraq and to send Mandaean ambassadors to other countries. Further, they would need financial support to build up a state-approved academy for the Mandaean language and religion. Also, the approximately 2,200 Mandaeans in the German diaspora need support to build a house of worship.
Of the about 100,000 Mandaeans worldwide, not more than 20,000 are still living in Iraq. Other sources speak of only 5,000. As the religious dignitaries told the STP’s Middle East Consultant, it had been an important gesture of acceptance of the small religious community that the Iraqi Prime Minister recently visited the main place of worship of the Mandaeans in Baghdad for the first time. Prime Minister Mohammed Shia' al-Sudani had paid a visit to the religious center of the Mandaeans on the Tigris River in mid-March.
Over the Easter holidays, Sido also visited a few Christian communities in the region. He noticed that more and more Christians are leaving Baghdad, even though the security situation has improved significantly. “If the remaining Christians in Iraq are to have a future, the government must ensure that they feel welcome in their home country,” he summarized his impressions.