Mandaean Graves in Iran Segregated and Destroyed

Mandaean Graves in Iran Segregated and Destroyed
Mandaean Graves in Iran Segregated and Destroyed



For several years now, the anniversary of the start of the Iran-Iraq war has been marked with ceremonies across major cities in Iran, especially those that were badly affected by the ensuing destruction.


One of these involves “dusting” the graves of the war dead – but not all of them.


On Thursday, September 24, 2020, the IRNA news agency published a collection of photographs entitled “Dusting the tombs of the Sabian Martyrs in Ahvaz.


” The pictures showed the families of people killed in the eight-year war, flanked by police officers and other officials, cleaning up the graves and headstones of their loved ones.


The pictures, though, were met with mixed reactions online. Some cyberspace users belonging to the Mandaean community, followers of an ancient religion who number in the thousands in Iran, insisted the images were staged and part of a propaganda campaign by the Islamic Republic.


By contrast, they said, their own rights including the right to rest in peace are being trampled on in Iran. As one of Iran’s least-known and worst-persecuted religious minorities, Mandaeans are often neglected by the regime even after their deaths.


“Some years ago in Ahvaz, a Mandaean father and three of his children died in an accident.


The mother and her only surviving child performed the burial rites in sorrow and with the help of some of their friends.


“The day after the burial, the mother and her son went to visit their loved ones. They found that locals, who knew it was a Mandaean cemetery, had placed old tires around the fresh graves and set them on fire.


This grieving woman has been suffering from nervous disorders ever since. She never recovered from it.”


This is what Selim, an Iranian-born Mandaean from Khuzestan province, recalls of the country he left behind ten years ago.


Adherents to his ancient gnostic faith are forced to endure to systemic discrimination in the Islamic Republic, from cradle to grave – and thereafter.


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