The Sabean-Mandaean community in Iraq is threatened with extinction. As a result of unabated kidnappings, robberies and killings, much of the community has been displaced from Baghdad and areas in the south of Iraq to the Kurdistan Region and Kirkuk. Considering the particular vulnerability of the community,and the continued security threats present in their areas of origin, community members are currently not considering going back.
After the defeat of the Islamic State, the Iraqi government should seize the window of opportunity to promote coexistence, religious pluralism and citizenship. In the short term, however, the Kurdistan Regional Government can play an important role in supporting the continued survival of the Sabean-Mandaean community by adopting a long-term vision towards their settlement in the Region and facilitate their integration in Kurdistan society. The international community who are concerned with religious pluralism in Iraq should seek to support the KRG in its approach and improve the community’s connectedness with its diaspora by reducing restrictions on visiting visas for countries hosting a large number of Sabean-Mandaeans.
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About MERI: The Middle East Research Institute is Iraq’s leading policy-research institute and think tank. It is an independent, entirely grant-funded not-for-profit organisation, based in Erbil, Kurdistan Region. Its mission is to contribute to the process of nation-building, state-building and democratisation via engagement, research, analysis and policy debates.
MERI’s main objectives include promoting and developing human rights, good governance, the rule of law and social and economic prosperity. MERI conduct high impact, high quality research (including purpose-based field work) and has published extensively in areas of: human rights, government reform, international politics, national security, ISIS, refugees, IDPs, minority rights (Christians, Yezidis, Turkmen, Shabaks, Sabi mandeans), Baghdad-Erbil relations, Hashd Al-Shabi, Peshmarga, violence against women, civil society. MERI engages policy- and decision-makers, the civil society and general public via publication, focused group discussions and conferences (MERI Forum).