IRAQ, Baghdad. 2003-12-28. Mandaeans are an ethnoreligious group indigenous to the alluvial plain of southern Mesopotamia and are exclusively followers of Mandaeism, a Gnostic religion, originated in the Middle East. The Mandaeans were originally native speakers of Mandaic, a Semitic language, which evolved from Eastern Middle Aramaic, before switching to colloquial Iraqi Arabic and Modern Persian. Mandaic is mainly preserved as a liturgical language. During the last decade the indigenous Mandaic community of Iraq, which used to number 60-70, 000 persons has collapsed due to Iraq War, with most of the community relocating to nearby Iran, Syria and Jordan and forming diaspora communities outside of the Middle East. The other indigenous community of Iranian Mandaeans has also been dwindling due to religious persecution over the last decade.
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