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Iraqi religious minority struggles to survive in hostile environment

Members of Iraq's dwindling Mandaean community are facing many difficulties in practicing their religion as the government has failed to protect them.
Mandaeans perform religious rituals during the Benja festival along the Tigris river in Baghdad March 16, 2016. REUTERS/Ahmed Saad - RTSAP9A
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BAGHDAD — Mazen Nayef, the leader of Basra's Sabaean Mandaean community, told Al-Sumaria News on July 23 that Iraqi authorities recently denied the community's request to build a house of worship, despite legally owning the land where it would be built. The Mandaeans fear that this will lead to further marginalization of the community and its culture. 

​As part of a campaign against the Mandaeans in Iraq, videos and rumors about the community's purported use of magic and sorcery have spread like wildfire. Consequently, the leader of the Sabaean Mandaean community in Iraq, Sheikh Satar Jabar Helou, said Aug. 16 that his community has nothing to do with witchcraft.

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