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Targeted by IS, the Yazidis are a misunderstood and persecuted religion group

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
8/13/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

While monotheistic, Yazidis worship a 'peacock angel' and observe both Christianity and Islam

Actively persecuted by Islamic State, nearly 40,000 Yazidis - perhaps the vast majority of people who still practice this religion are trapped on the top of Mount Sinjar with few resources. "These innocent families are faced with a horrible choice," President Obama said in a recent speech. \"Descend the mountain and be slaughtered, or stay and slowly die of thirst and hunger.\" Just who are the Yazidi, whose number are reported as low as 50,000?

They have been unjustly denounced as devil-worshippers as the Yazidis revere an angel who, their tradition holds, refused to obey God.

They have been unjustly denounced as devil-worshippers as the Yazidis revere an angel who, their tradition holds, refused to obey God.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
8/13/2014 (3 years ago)

Published in Middle East

Keywords: Yazidis, religiou minority, persecution


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Yazidis are one of the world's smallest and oldest monotheistic religious minorities. Considered a pre-Islamic sect, the Yazidi draws from Christianity, Judaism and the ancient monotheistic religion of Zoroastrianism. People cannot convert to the religion, only born into it.

Yazidis worship one God and honor seven angels. However, unlike Muslims and Christians, they reject the idea of sin, the devil and hell itself.

SAVE Iraqi Christians from Genocide --

They have been unjustly denounced as devil-worshippers as the Yazidis revere an angel who, their tradition holds, refused to obey God.

Persecuted throughout history, the most recent example prior to the Islamic States' efforts, happened in the U.S. war in Iraq. More than 700 people were killed when suicide bombers attacked a Yazidi village in 2007. Before that, they were targeted for centuries under the rule of the Ottoman Empire.

Both President Obama and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warn that if the Yazidis are not protected, their slaughter could quickly escalate to a genocide.

The U.S. has since sent them humanitarian airdrops. Obama has authorized airstrikes against the Islamic State fighters who are threatening the Yazidis there.

Girls and boys from a Yazidi religious school sing hymns and prayers at Lalesh temple.

Girls and boys from a Yazidi religious school sing hymns and prayers at Lalesh temple.


The U.S. State Department's 2013 International Religious Freedom Report estimates that approximately 500,000 Yazidis live in the northern Iraq, accounting for less than one percent of the country's population. Another 200,000 live in other parts of the world.

Like the Kurds, Yazidis mostly reside in Iraq's north, many in the town of Sinjar in northwestern Nineveh province, bordering Iraq's Kurdish region.

Yazidis also live in Turkey, Syria, Armenia, Iran and parts of the Caucasus region. Yazidis speak Kurdish and are of Kurdish descent, but most see themselves as ethnically distinctive.

Up to 50,000 Yazidis, who are trapped in the mountains in northwest Iraq without food or water.

Up to 50,000 Yazidis, who are trapped in the mountains in northwest Iraq without food or water.


In the meantime, before the recent targeting by IS, some say as many as half of Iraq's Christians fled the country at the start of the U.S. war in 2003. Al Qaeda in Iraq, which preceded ISIS, brutally targeted the country's Christian minority.

Christian leaders and nongovernmental organizations estimate that there are approximately 500,000 Christians in Iraq - a that figure has declined by nearly 300,000 in the last five years. At one point there were over a million Christians living in Iraq, according to the State Department.

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