Monday, 5 March 2007

The Measure of Civilisation

Gandhi famously remarked that the way we treat minorities is the measure of civilization in a society. One of the most tragic effects of the rise of global religious fundamentalism is its impact on minority groups, like the Copts and Baha'i in Egypt, the Assyriac Christians in Turkey, or indeed the Muslims in Europe who are collectively suffering a constant barrage of negative criticism.

Rarely, however, are such groups threatened with treatment as extreme and brutal as the Sabians - followers of one of the world's oldest religions - of whom fewer than 5000 now remain in Iraq thanks to violence committed against them from all sides in the conflict.

Interviewing one of the five remaining Mandaen bishops, a BBC journalist discovered that - in a country operating without law and in the grip of religious extremism - they may well soon be destroyed.

"We are small in numbers, we ask all the governments of the world to extend a hand of help," Kanzfra Sattar says. He says he wants the West to accept his people as refugees.
I ask him what will happen if they do not - he replies simply: "Our ethnic minority and our ancient religion will die off."

see the link for the whole story: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6412453.stm

If we don't want to live in a brutalised world we should speak out against all such cases, in our own communities and beyond, and force our representatives to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves.

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