Mandaeans perform rituals along a strip of embankment on the Tigris reserved for them in Baghdad. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)
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Every Sunday in Iraq, along a strip of embankment on the Tigris River reserved for followers of the obscure and ancient Mandaean faith, worshippers bathe themselves in the waters to purify their souls.Iraq's soaring water pollution is threatening the religious rites of its tight-knit Mandaean community, already devastated by 15 years of war that has also affected the country's other minority sects.The faith holds that only flowing water can baptize the faithful, and that it should be clear, pure and fit for human consumption.Sheikh Jabar estimates there are just 10,000 Mandaeans left in Iraq today, a fraction of what it was before.Still, the two Mesopotamian rivers mentioned in Mandaean scripture hold special significance to the faithful.
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