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January 07, 2008

Disappearing Mandaens

Disappearing Mandaeans

Reports of sectarian strife in Iraq automatically connote the factions of Sunni and Shia. They don't usually mention people like Walaa Wini. Walaa practices an ancient faith that now faces both persecution and extinction within Iraq. Walaa is Mandaean.

Nearly 80% of Mandaeans have fled to Syria and Jordan because of the forced conversions, rapes, threats and assassinations they've faced. Often called Gnostics, Mandaens trace their religion back 2,000 years - and its presence in Iraq antedates both Islam and Christianity. Some estimates once put their number at 70,000 within Iraq, but since the war started, that number has dropped to as low as 3,000.

Walaa himself was threatened by masked gunmen who came to the store he operated with his brother. They later killed his brother, and in another incident, shot and wounded another brother. Walaa talks to Dick Gordon about being Mandaean in Iraq and the uncertainty he and his family now face since their recent arrival in the US.

Who Needs Refrigeration?

Dave Owen heard Dick's conversation with Steve DiJoseph, who gave his television up years ago. Dave wrote in because he also gave up his television many years ago. But Dave also gave up his refrigerator. He tells Dick Gordon what he and his family do without a refrigerator, and what it is about the refrigerator that made him decide to have it hauled away.

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