SOAS University of London

Department of Religions & Philosophies, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

Perspectives on Iraqi Minorities: Jews, Mandaeans and Christians

Dr Erica Hunter

Date: 14 October 2014Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 14 October 2014Time: 6:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: Djam Lecture Theatre

Type of Event: Seminar

Note: Internal event not open to external attendees.

A variety of non-Muslim minorities have contributed much to the history and culture of Iraq. In recent times, the Christian communities, who first settled in the second century, have been the subject of much news coverage following their expulsion from Mosul where they have lived for many centuries. The Mandaeans, a ‘gnostic’ community, mainly living in the southern regions of Iraq, were heavily targeted following the Allied invasion of 2003. Only approx. 5,000 of an erstwhile population of 50,000 are left. The Jewish communities, now counted as only a handful, first settled in Babylon during the Babylonian Exile in the sixth century BC. Until 1948, they accounted for more than 1/3 of the population of Baghdad, but were ‘invited to leave’ and settled mainly in Israel. Following a brief survey of each of these communities, the paper traces patterns in the persecutions that have taken place over the last 50 years, raising the question of the vulnerability of religious ‘minorities’ in the face of political majorities.