A short article published by the Associated Press on February 10 sheds light on the situation of a little known Middle Eastern faith. Followers of John the Baptist, more than 60,000 of the Mandaeans lived in Iraq a decade ago. Targeted by both Sunni insurgents and Shia militiamen their numbers in Iraq plunged to just a few thousands as the bulk of the community fled to the West to escape targeted killings, rapes, forced conversions and property confiscation.
According to the article the Mandaeans are highly successful in the US with many working as doctors and engineers. The Mandaeans are certainly not into getting themselves stuck and isolated in poor banlieues. Yet the economic success of the community has become the cause of its own undoing as the successful integration brought with it mixed marriages, The Mandaean religion is apparently very strict on mixed marriages and only children of Mandaean parents on both sides are considered Mandaeans. Under these conditions the inflexibility of the priests spells the end of the faith in the span of a few generations.
The Mandaeans in the US are lobbying hard for the rest of the Mandaeans to be allowed to immigrate. The situation is dire with the Mandaeans being targeted by extremists of every stripe and religion. The State Department appears to be investigating an option to allow in more refugees from Iraq, including the "special populations" of religious minorities. It is of course an indirect acknowledgment of a total fiasco of the American experiment of bringing democracy to the Middle East that such religious minorities have no place in the new 'liberated' Iraq. One can only hope that immigration to the US will at least allow these people to regain peace of mind.
God Bless America
Mandaean Associations Union
The Mandaeans History, Religion and Mythology (from the same site)
Back to HappyArabNews