The Mandaean Refugee Crisis

The last two presentations were by Erica Hunter and by Layla al-Roomi and another Mandaean, and they focused on the situation of Mandaeans today. Mandaeans face discrimination and persecution in their historic homelands in Iran and Iran, and in the diaspora they face the difficulty of trying to preserve their heritage when they may have little or no community, do not have their religious texts in the languages their children grow up speaking, and if someone marries outside the community, the children are not considered Mandaeans. If ways of coping with these circumstances cannot be found, the last surviving Gnostic religion from antiquity, with interesting connections with as well as possibly independent traditions from Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, having survived to the present day, may disappear from our midst. Even from a scholarly perspective, it would be tragic to lose the opportunity to observe this ancient baptizing Gnostic religion being practiced before our eyes. But from a humanitarian perspective, the tragedy of what Mandaeans have been experiencing and continue to experience is every bit as heartbreaking.

 

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