Iraqi Mandaean Survival Endangered By Dispersion

Posted 47 months ago|9 comments|1,392 views
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One of the casualties of the war in Iraq has been the presence of the Mandaean community in Iraq. The Mandaeans are a gnostic, monotheistic religion that venerates John the Baptist and prohibits circumcision. They are completely pacifist and do not accept converts. The only way to become a Mandaean is to be born to two Mandaean parents.

Mandaean faith is not only individual and familial but communal. They require running water for their weekly baptism rituals and access to Mandaean clergy. In the course of the war in Iraq and because of persecution in Iran, 60,000 Mandaeans have fled Iran and Iraq in recent years. Lack of education in their faith has resulted in the decline of Mandaeanism in exile. The older generation that grew up in Iraq fears that they may be the last generation to practice the faith.

Getting one nation to accept a bloc of refugees from one ethnic group is difficult. quotesVincent Cochetel, who represents the UN High Commisioner for refugees explained the problem as follows.

"It makes sense to keep them together, but no one nation can provide them with effective protection," said Cochetel, who represents the U.S. and the Caribbean for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. "Nations also have to take into consideration affordable housing available. That's just the social reality."

That may well be the case, but Mandaeans seem to be very good low risk candidates to accept as refugees. They are pacifists, they do not proselytise and have an attitude of extending charity to Mandaean and non Mandaean alike.

The largest community of Mandaeans in the US is the greater Boston area with about 450 of them.It would be good for the various countries that have taken in Mandaeans to work with the Mandaean leadership to at least settle groups of Mandaeans in close enough proximity that they can easily maintain regular contact. The Mandaeans have endured terrible trauma as a community since the start of the war in Iraq. It is not hard to understand their desire to survive as a community. We should try to work with them on this issue.

Photo by Max Becher
Wisam Breeg
Wisam Breeg
Woburn, MA
47 months ago: We are pressing the United State government to take the Mandaean plight seriously and bare the historic, moral and legal responsibility to save the Mandaean from total annihilation by scattering them around the world.

We are asking for your support to write to your local congressman and your organizations to resettle the 5000+ Mandaeans in Syria, Jordan and Iraq in the United States of America.

Please sign and circulate the online petition

47 months ago: Do they offer anything else? Superior medicine, billions to give to the poor, transportation vehicles that run on water, something, anything besides the basic peaceful, segregated lifestyle that doesn't mix well with others?

I feel for them, but their way of life offers nothing to any country that might take them in.

It actually offends me; I'm not good enough to become one of them? Their religion is so special you have to be born into it? Sounds more like royalty, and they don't exactly rate very high on my scale of who should get special treatment.

I don't wish them any ill will, but I can't support a group that is so prejudicial against everyone else.
47 months ago: The Mandaeans contribute to society through positive contributions in academic, professional and public service occupations. They are involved in society with an ethic of behaving decently to people outside their group. The one area in which they are insular is in the area of marriage. That is their right, wherever they live.

The Mandaeans have beliefs that I do not share, that even repulse me. They do not, for instance regard Abraham or Moses with the reverence that I do. But then again, I don't much care for Jesus either. What I care about is how people behave towards me in this world. What they believe is their business, as is who they will or will not marry.

I am delighted to welcome Wisam Breeg to Rantrave and to the United States of America. It pleases me greatly that he has settled in my birth state of Massachusetts. I hope and pray that he and his dispersed community may know only peace and live in close enough proximity to maintain their traditions. A belief that I am sure that Dr. Breeg and I share is that truth should be embraced as an act of free will and not under any form of duress. The welfare of the Mandaeans will remain a matter of my prayerful concern.
Wisam Breeg
Wisam Breeg
Woburn, MA
47 months ago: Misperceptions follows the Mandaean believes, which does not surprise me! We are not only peaceful, which I do not apologizing for it, but we are skilled jewelers, artists, intellectuals, doctors, and many other good things. As an American, and medical researcher, I have worked on the cure of many diseases and hold several pending patents in the field of treatment of ocular diseases, among other things. I am sure these things will count for something!
If your people are less than 60000 thousand, and you are threatened to be annihilated, raped, converted,.. you will do what we did to survive. It was not a walk in the park!
We do share many Judaic traditions, which might surprise you! We call our great baptism "the great baptism of Abraham". We do respect all other faiths, and the confusion it might be because we are one of the oldest biblical faiths.
47 months ago: As with all groups/races of people, you have the same abilities to think, make things and explore the world around you. Even the "Lost Boys" had that much going for them, they just had no way to show it until after they escaped to other countries.

This "must be born of" is just another reason I can add to the multitude of reasons I reject religion. Pretty conceited and aloof of them, no one is good enough or equal to them unless born into their little clique.

Good luck, you're going to need it.
47 months ago: Marriage should be for the purpose of values transmission. Although Judaism allows conversion, I have no problem with each group establishing its rules for admission. Dr. Breeg, you have no reason to apologise for what you believe or practice. I do not fear you converting me or my family at gunpoint. Additionally, you have spoken well of the contributions your coreligionists make to the societies in which you live. The battle for souls should not be with weaposn but with the intellect. That is what America is based upon
Honor by Choice
Honor by Choice
Waco, TX
47 months ago: If I had the money, I'd buy them a piece of land somewhere and pay to have the whole of them transported there if they so disired, and I would see to it that they had whatever they needed to become self sufficiant and comfortable. Nothing makes you feel so helpless, that to be a people with no home. I would give them that home.
47 months ago: You cannot marry your cousin for a reason. They may take care of their own problems. No?
47 months ago: HBC, I love your spirit. My understanding is that one of the logistical difficulties faced by the Mandaeans in Iraq is that there was no one region in which they were concentrated. They were kind of spread out. Being strict pacifists has not made their lives easy either. What would happen if they had an Amish style community? I don't know. It would be a new chapter in their history

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