Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Threats Against The Sabaean-Mandeans In Basra

I thought I'd complete my trilogy of threats against different sectors of Basra's "good old days" society by sheding light on the dangers facing the Sabaean-Mandeans in Basra. To refresh your memory, read back my earlier posts on threats against Sunnis and against Christians in Basra.

In the good old days, Basrawi Sabaeans were known for being the best jewelers in town. If you wanted the best golden bracelet or necklace, you checked with your favorite Sabaean jeweler at Al-Maghayiz market and you would most likely find what you were looking for.

Religiously, they're known as the followers of John The Baptist. They wear a cross partially covered with a cloak. The Iraqi Christians call them "cousins" because of the relationship between Jesus and John the Baptist. They're definitely one of the most peaceful minorities in Iraq.

Like all other minorities, they have been threatened by the thugs ruling Basra for the last three years. I follow their news by reading Basra's dispatches on Ankawa online. Their temple was attacked a few weeks ago. Members of their community are being forced to leave Basra under different types of threats. The latest threat was against Abu Alaa:

© ankawa online

Abu Alaa lives with his family in Basra's Al-Zubair District. He was kidnapped, tortured and his house robbed by his multi-skilled kidnappers. He was released after his family paid a ransom to those criminals. He has also been given a warning to leave the city or face death by their hands.

It's sad what happened to my city. The city of tolerance has turned to the city of intolerance and discrimination. But Basra still welcomes the refugees fleeing Baghdad. Azzaman newspaper reports:

More than 1,200 families have recently fled to the southern city of Basra mainly from Baghdad where sectarian tensions are on the rise.

Basra Council has urged the central government to ferry humanitarian assistance to the refugees who had left even their personal belongings behind.

Tens of thousands of Iraqi families are on the move. Sunni families flee areas and cities dominated by Shiites and vice versa.

Almost all those landing in Basra and other cities in the south are Shiites forced to flee their Sunni-dominated areas in Baghdad and other cities in central Iraq.


With the different minorities leaving Basra, the governor shouldn't have a problem finding residence for those refugees. I'm sure there are more than 1200 empty houses in Basra. Some of them are probably fully-furnished.

Dr. Ala Bashir is right in saying there's too much hatred among Iraqis of different sectors. It was always there and we kept up the appearances because we were busy trying to survive under Saddam's regime. Now that the dictator is gone, many Iraqis have installed themselves as dictators.

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