What will happen to Iraq’s Mandaeans?

The same applies to our representation in the Baghdad provincial council. The political representation of the minorities is symbolic and ineffective in all cases.

Al-Monitor:  Does the Mandaeans’ representation in the divan fulfill the Mandaeans’ ambitions and express their aspirations?

Maghamiss:  The Christian, Yazidi and Sabian Mandaean Endowments Divan is a small state institution, although it concerns the three religious communities that are acknowledged in constitutional Article 2-2. Yet in the divan, dealing with the three religious minorities that are officially recognized is based on the number of adherents rather than their competence.

There are seven general directors, two vice presidents and one president of the divan, of which the Mandaeans only obtained the post of general director of the Sabians' endowment affairs, or rather acting general director, and one vice president of the divan.

So far, we have not gotten the Cabinet’s approval on these posts, although more than a year has passed since [the letter] was submitted for approval. This means that it is not our right to compete for the post of president of the three religious communities' endowments divan, due to our small number compared with the Christians and Yazidis.

Al-Monitor:  What is the nature of your job at the Christian, Yazidi and Sabian Mandaean Endowments Divan?

Maghamiss:  I use my experience as an architectural engineer at the divan to serve its projects, as I provide engineering consultancy services. I have chaired several committees such as the Christian, Yazidi and Sabian Mandaean women's affairs follow-up committee, the high committee for the advancement of women with the canceled Ministry of Women’s Affairs, the High Committee for Literacy with the Ministry of Education and I was a member of the adjudicating committee in the divan, in charge of making important decisions.

My duties as the acting general director of the divan include following up on Sabian religious affairs and endowments, including real estate properties, acquisitions and architectural designs and monitoring the implementation of the sect’s related projects such as the construction of Mandaean places of worship [mandis], cemeteries, guest houses, schools and other buildings in Baghdad and the provinces.

I am also tasked with communicating with the representatives of other religions, by participating in meetings, conferences and festivals and by exchanging visits and visiting religious figures and authorities and diplomatic bodies to cater to the needs of adherents of the three religions in the divan.

Al-Monitor:  What are the main obstacles that hinder your work?

Maghamiss:  We mainly suffer from a lack of financial allocations to the divan. How can we introduce our religion to Iraqis and to the world in light of no allocations to print publications on our beliefs and produce movies and documentaries? The official media does not contribute in any way in introducing our religion. We have almost become an unknown religion.

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