The British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS) sends its greetings to the Mandaean community in the Ahwaz region at the time of their Dahwa Hnina (Eid al-Sagir) celebrations. The event lasts for three days and involves baptisms and remembrance of the dead with ritual feasts.
Mandaeans are a persecuted religious minority in Iraq and Iran. They traditionally live along the Shatt al-Arab waterway that forms the border between the two countries Although they are a peace-loving people, they have been targeted by Islamic extremists who are seeking to intimidate them into conversion. Methods used include murder, throwing acid in their faces, abduction, rape and torture. The religious extremists aim to physically eradicate the existence of Mandaeans, while forced assimilation has been officially practised in Iraq and Iran to undermine or destroy their cultural distinctiveness.
Around 80% of 60,000 Iraqi Mandaeans have fled to Jordan and Syria following the 2003 Iraq War. In Iran, they are prevented from participating in public life by the Gozinesh Law, which restricts access to employment, education and other public services through ideological screening. It is believed that up to 10,000 Mandaeans live in the Ahwaz region, although many are emigrating to North America and Europe for safety and freedom.
BAFS and other groups working with the Ahwazi Arab minority, which also faces persecution and discrimination under Iranian rule, extend their solidarity and support to the Mandaean community.