One of the unpleasant aspects of what is happening at the moment in Iraq is the way that religious minorities are being treated. One such is an ancient group of people who beleive that John the Baptist was the last true prophet of God. They have small communities in Iraq- numbering in their thousands which have been depleted by flight since the American occupation. At present lawyers for the Mandeans are attempting to secure their status by getting Western Countries to accept them as refugees- such attempts are being made for example in Australia. Some American journalists have picked up on the story and are pressurising their government to let the Mandeans in. Accusations have been made and reported by reputable news organisations like the BBC that inside Iraq Mandeans are being tortured and murdered in large numbers. Indeed many are fleeing across the border into Jordan and Syria not to mention seeking asylum in the West. Its often said that we have a responsibility for what happens in Iraq- I would suggest we do and that in particular we have a responsibility for minorities in Iraq if they come to be persecuted. I can't state for sure that this is the case with the Mandeans- though the evidence suggests it might well be. But if it is, the UK and US and Australian governments should in my view accept their asylum claim.