The Last Gnostics: The War in Iraq and the Fate of the Mandaeans Dr. Wisam Breegi
MSHABA MAREY!   PRAISED BE THE LORD! <ul><li>MSHABA MAREY BLIBA DAKHYA </li></ul><ul><li>PRAISED BE THE LORD WITH A TRUTHF...
Mandaeans: The last surviving Gnostics <ul><li>The Mandaean community is of non-Arab descent and is an ethno-religious min...
Journey to Exile
Community in Exile <ul><li>Mandaean texts contain only a handful of references, in a guarded manner, to the history of the...
Blessings of the Yardina
 
A “Vulnerable Special Group” <ul><li>Prior to the First Gulf War, there were ~60,000 Mandaeans in Iraq, and ~12000 in Iran...
“ The Mandaeans who carry no weapons, who will not kill, and have no social establishment to defend them, are the first an...
“ Scattering of the Mandaeans in the past few years and the creation of micro-communities across the globe rather than in ...
The threat of extinction!  <ul><li>“ Scattering of Mandaeans in the past few years and the creation of micro-communities a...
Worldwide Asylum Status
Fleeing Iraq
Stop this silent genocide! Specific Desired Outcomes   <ul><li>Priority 2 status [ Priority 2 is reserved for groups of in...
Let us be the drops, that force their way through the dam of injustice
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The Plight Of The Mandaeans, Boston New

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The Plight Of The Mandaeans, Boston New

  1. 1. The Last Gnostics: The War in Iraq and the Fate of the Mandaeans Dr. Wisam Breegi
  2. 2. MSHABA MAREY! PRAISED BE THE LORD! <ul><li>MSHABA MAREY BLIBA DAKHYA </li></ul><ul><li>PRAISED BE THE LORD WITH A TRUTHFUL HEART </li></ul><ul><li>BESHMEIHON ED HAIEE RABEE </li></ul><ul><li>IN THE NAME OF THE GREAT LIFE </li></ul><ul><li>ASOOTHEH-W-ZEKOOTHEH, HAILA-W-ESHRARA, IMRA-W-SHIMA, HIDWAT LIBA, W-SHABIGH HADHAEE </li></ul><ul><li>NAHWEELKHON W-NAHWEELEI </li></ul><ul><li>HEALING, VINDICATION, HEALTH, SOUNDNESS,SPEAKING AND HEARING, JOY OF THE HEART, </li></ul><ul><li>BLESSING AND FORGIVENESS OF THE LORD BE UPON ALL OF YOU AND ME </li></ul><ul><li>AMEN </li></ul>
  3. 3. Mandaeans: The last surviving Gnostics <ul><li>The Mandaean community is of non-Arab descent and is an ethno-religious minority </li></ul><ul><li>We are the only surviving Gnostics from Late Antiquity and consider John the Baptist to be one of our great teachers </li></ul><ul><li>Mandaeans have lived in Iraq and Iran for almost two thousand years and constitute one of Iraq's smallest and most vulnerable minorities </li></ul><ul><li>Embrace a pacifist doctrine and believe in peace above all else (NO self-defense) </li></ul><ul><li>Multiple-baptisms, purification of the soul and knowledge are its central rituals </li></ul><ul><li>Today’s Iraqi and Iranian Mandaeans are one related family (relatives) </li></ul>
  4. 4. Journey to Exile
  5. 5. Community in Exile <ul><li>Mandaean texts contain only a handful of references, in a guarded manner, to the history of the people </li></ul><ul><li>Our long, tragic history of persecution and destruction led to the loss of written history </li></ul><ul><li>For fear of reprisal and as a means of survival and to avoid more persecution </li></ul><ul><li>As a result, today little information has been passed down about our history </li></ul><ul><li>What we do know includes: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Post the fall of Jerusalem in the 1 st century, Mandaeans dispersed east and resettled in Mesopotamia </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>One surviving text tell us a very dark story: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The massacre and burning of their texts in 1782 </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The massacre of Muhamra, Iran in 1837, </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The massacre of Suk-Al-Shiuk, Iraq in1839, </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The genocide of Shushter, Dezful and Shawali in 1870, which almost wiped out the Mandaeans </li></ul></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Blessings of the Yardina
  7. 8. A “Vulnerable Special Group” <ul><li>Prior to the First Gulf War, there were ~60,000 Mandaeans in Iraq, and ~12000 in Iran </li></ul><ul><li>Today, fewer than 3,500 remain in the country </li></ul><ul><li>More than 95% of the Mandaean community has fled Iraq in the past few years, compared to only 10% of Iraqis as a whole.  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>3,500-3,000 in Iraq </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>15,000 in Europe and UK </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>6,000 in Australia </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>5000 in USA </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>4000 in Canada </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>3000-5000 in Iran </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Estimates of Mandaean refugees: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>3000 in Syria </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>450 in Jordan </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>300 individuals in other countries </li></ul></ul>
  8. 9. “ The Mandaeans who carry no weapons, who will not kill, and have no social establishment to defend them, are the first and easiest targets” UNHCR <ul><li>504 killings*: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>between 22 October 2003 - 17 May 2004 because of their religion </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Of those killed, 90 percent were goldsmiths aged 18 to 60 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>118 kidnappings*: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Between 9 February 2003 - 24 March 2006 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>139 threats*: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Between 9 April 2004 to 12 April 2004 (to convert to Islam, or to leave their homes) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Forced conversions*: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>In 2004, 35 Mandaean families underwent forced conversion in Fallujah alone. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>* Minority Rights Group report 2007 </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  9. 10. “ Scattering of the Mandaeans in the past few years and the creation of micro-communities across the globe rather than in one central country poses an enormous threat to their survival. In short, after surviving for two millennia in the cradle of civilization, the Mandaeans are in danger of becoming extinct” Nathaniel Deutsch, NY Times, 10/6/07 <ul><li>The mass exodus of Mandaeans has resulted from a relentless wave of physical assaults, rapes, and murder, as well as religious persecution and forced conversion </li></ul><ul><li>Unlike any other religious minorities in Iraq, Mandaeans are scattered and do not have safe enclave within Iraq, no tribal affiliations, nor any available internal or external resources </li></ul>
  10. 11. The threat of extinction! <ul><li>“ Scattering of Mandaeans in the past few years and the creation of micro-communities across the globe rather than in one central country poses an enormous threat to their survival. In short, after surviving for two millennia in the cradle of civilization, the Mandaeans are in danger of becoming extinct” Nathaniel Deutsch, NY Times, 10/6/07 </li></ul><ul><li>After the brutal killing of three priests, over 17 priests have fled Iraq; less than a handful remain in Iraq </li></ul><ul><li>The Mandaean language, culture and heritage is in danger of extinction </li></ul>
  11. 12. Worldwide Asylum Status
  12. 13. Fleeing Iraq
  13. 14. Stop this silent genocide! Specific Desired Outcomes <ul><li>Priority 2 status [ Priority 2 is reserved for groups of individuals of special concern identified and selected by the U.S. government] </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Adopt immigration law to re-settle the Mandaeans as an endangered ethnic group in one area in the US. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>P2 status currently available only to Iranian Mandaeans </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Expand P2 status for Mandaeans still in Iraq and refugees elsewhere </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Establish an economic independence by provide them with short-term emergency relief as well as long-term programs to sustain and protect their unique culture and traditions. Such program might include a business model that reflects their handmade skills in traditional jewelry making, which may include a small museum as a tourist attraction </li></ul><ul><li>Partner with other organizations and NGOs to create a sustainable Mandaean community in the US by creating a nucleus large enough for them to flourish. Ideally, this would include cultural and worship center, as well as an academic program for Mandaean studies that would explore and preserve our ancient culture, traditions, and language </li></ul>
  14. 15. Let us be the drops, that force their way through the dam of injustice
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