Mandeans in Iraq celebrate ‘feast of world creation'

Mandeans, a small religious group in Iraq, this week gathered to celebrate the feast of Al-Khalqeh (creation of the world) in the country’s south. Mandaeism – or Sabian in Arabic – is a monotheistic religion believed to have emerged in pre-Christian times or in the early days of Christianity. 

Adherents of the Gnostic religion are mostly located around the rivers in Basra and Nasiriyah provinces. They speak their own language, Mandaic, and have a distinctive writing system. The Mandean population in Iraq has decreased significantly in recent years, particularly following the 2003 invasion. 
Some 90 percent of the community left the country between 2003 and 2019, according to Sattar Jabbar Helou, the worldwide head of the Mandean community. Around 3,000 followers still remain in Iraq. 

A number of Mandeans also live in the autonomous Kurdistan Region, with around 400 followers of the sect living in the capital Erbil, according to the Kurdistan Regional Government. Another 40-50 may remain in Sulaimaniyah and Dohuk. 
The group’s lack of representation is believed to be one of the reasons that its members fear extinction in Iraq’s sectarian-dominated political landscape. “The Iraqi government believes that there is only a few thousand of us left and it does not pay attention to our demands," Helou said. 

by Halgurd Sherwani

Post a Comment