Iraq: Mandaean abducted – religious community faced with Exodus

PRESS RELEASE Göttingen, 03.07.2008

Once again a Mandaean abducted – 25,000 of the 30,000 Mandaeans have already fled

In Iraq the chain of infringements on members of the Mandaean religious community is unbroken. The Society for Threatened Peoples (GfbV) learned on Thursday that in the south of the country a Mandaean has once again been the victim of an abduction. The criminals demand from the family of the 18-year old Abraham Hakim Nuri Al-Dihesi a ransom of 150,000 US dollars.

The young man was together with his father on the way home from a job in their jeweller’s shop in the town of Zubayr in the province of Basra when they were attacked by masked men. The father was beaten and left behind at the scene of the crime, while Abraham was abducted by the criminals. Although a police-car stood nearby at that time the custodians of the law did not intervene, but waited until the criminals had disappeared. The day after the abduction the father received a letter with the demand for the ransom.

The abduction is part of a long series of infringements which the Mandaean community in Iraq has been subjected to for a long time. In the middle of June a Mandaean was abducted in Baghdad in the Althoura quarter on his way to work in the Al Qahera quarter. After a member of the family of the abducted had paid 30,000 US dollars the Mandaean was released on 28^th June, reported a member of the GfbV staff in Baghdad.
In February 2008 ten members of a Mandaean family died in a rocket attack on their house in the Alaza area in Kut. They had already had threats from Islamists.

In the face of the persistent terror and crimes of violence to members of their religious community about 25,000 of the approximately 30,000 Mandaeans in Iraq have fled to the neighbouring countries. If the enmity, threats and attacks continue the remaining 5,000 Mandaeans will have disappeared from Iraq, fears the GfbV. This would mean that the almost 2000-year history of this religion in Iraq has been ended. The Mandaean religious community, which traces its roots back to John the Baptist, has only about 60,000 members throughout the world. About 1,200 of them live in Germany.

>>>>>>>>>>>>> Für Menschenrechte. Weltweit. <<<<<<<<<<<<<<< Gesellschaft für bedrohte Völker / Society for Threatened Peoples P.O. Box 20 24 – D-37010 Göttingen/Germany Nahostreferat/ Middle East Desk Dr. Kamal Sido – Tel: +49 (0) 551 49906-18 – Fax: +49 (0) 551 58028
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