The Destruction of the Mandaean Religion in Iraq
By Lee Jay Walker
The Modern Tokyo Times
|Mandaeans — Mandaeans exchanging a ritual handshake or kušṭa: Mandaeism is a monotheistic religion with a strongly dualistic worldview. Its adherents, the Mandaeans, revere Adam, Abel, Seth, Enosh, Noah, Shem, Aram and especially John the Baptist.|
The American led invasion of Iraq was meant to usher in democracy, liberty, freedom, and a revitalized Iraq. Sadly, from the outset other forces would be unleashed and this applies to radical Islam, terrorism, Sunni-Shia clashes, the persecution of Christians, and other negative forces. At the same time, an ancient religion was about to face a new wave of hatred and ethnic cleansing. This community, the Mandaeans, now faces virtual annihilation and now only a few thousand remain in modern day Iraq. So will this small community be forced to go into complete exile?
It is clearly apparent that all minorities, be they Assyrian Christians, Mandaeans, Shabaks, Yazidis, or others, face enormous persecution and the central government is either too weak or complacent. Also, the leaders of America must be blamed for entering Iraq and then leaving the minorities to face persecution, torture, death, and ethnic cleansing.
If we return back to the Mandaean community, then clearly their suffering is great and this community is in complete shock and bewilderment. The promise of a new Iraq means little because the “real reality” is abundantly clear and this applies to systematic persecution at the hands of radical Muslims and by mainstream society at large.
Of course America did not intend for this to happen, however, once systematic persecution began then the response by America and allied forces was a disgrace. After all, the Assyrian Christians, Mandaeans Shabaks, Yazidis, and others, have just been abandoned and Islamization is being allowed to take place.
Throughout history the Mandaeans and other minorities have faced many periods of brute force, forced conversion to Islam, massacres, pogroms, and widespread persecution. Of course, at other times they have been allowed to get on with their lives but at a price, namely paying jizya (tax) in order to be dhimmis or by being marginalized or alienated from mainstream society.
The Mandaeans, like the Shabaks and Yazidis, are not protected by dhimmitude because they are not deemed to be People of the Book. This applies to being outside of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism; the three recognized religions in Islam. Therefore, persecution is tolerated because the Mandaeans are deemed to be infidels.
In 2007 the BBC covered a story about the Mandaeans via the headline “Iraq’s Mandaeans face extinction” which was written by Angus Crawford. During the article Angus Crawford states that “The Mandaeans are pacifists, followers of Adam, Noah and John the Baptist.” He highlights that by 2007 more than 80% had already fled their homeland because of the fear of death and daily persecution.
The article also highlights the plight of a 9 year old boy called Selwan. However, for this 9 year old boy he witnessed the hatred of radical Islam because he was forced to jump into a burning bonfire. The consequences of this, yes, the persecution of such a young boy, is around 20% burns and this only happened to him because he is a Mandaean.
The same article also highlights the forced conversion to Islam of Luay who is too petrified to give his full name. For Luay, a Mandaean, he was forced to convert to Islam and “forcibly circumcised.” Also, like Angus Crawford mentions, because “he was forcibly converted. That means in the eyes of those same extremists, if he now declares himself Mandaean he is (an) apostate.” Therefore, if he re-converts back to the Mandaean faith he may be killed by radical Islamists.
The article also highlights a Mandaean lady called Enhar who was raped by a Muslim gang of masked men because she would not wear a veil. Not only was this brutal crime terrifying and a crime against humanity, but this Muslim gang also raped her in front of her husband and somehow both must “overcome this tragic and brutal incident.”
Therefore, by 2007 you only had approximately 7,000 Mandaeans left in Iraq and of course the situation is not getting any better because a fresh pogrom is always around the corner. Given this tragic reality it is abundantly clear that this ancient faith, which is not a threat to anyone, now faces extinction because of the Islamic faith.
Of course you have many tragedies in Iraq but why have minorities been left to either die, pay jizya (tax) to Islamic radicals, face daily persecution, and other daily crimes? Why did America and allied forces, notably the British, do nothing to stop these barbaric crimes in Iraq? Did both nations, and others, believe that they did not count or is it that they just do not care?
Also, what is the government of Iraq doing to protect these minorities? Or is it simply that the central government is too weak? So ex-President Bush unleashed forces he could not contain and the current leader, President Obama, wants to leave Iraq. I wonder if either Bush or Obama care about the plight of Assyrian Christians, Mandaeans, Shabaks, Turkomans, Yazidis, and other minorities, and the role of women in the new Iraq?
LEE JAY WALKER
THE MODERN TOKYO TIMES