Why some Muslims want to destroy the Yazidis by genocide
Displaced Yazidi’s re-enter Iraq from Syria on August 14thPhoto: Reuters
To hear President Obama tell it, one might think that recent bombing raids by the US against jihadist positions between Mosul and Erbil in northern Iraq have already removed the threat of extermination posed against the Yazidis, a religious minority driven out of its ancestral home by the Islamic State of self-styled Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Displaced Yazidi’s cross the Iraqi-Syrian border at the Fishkhabur crossing in northern Iraq.Photo: Getty Images
However, several Yazidi spokesmen reached over the past few days insist that tens of thousands of people are still facing extermination — and on Friday, 80 Yazidis were massacred by IS fighters.
“Our people are dying of hunger, thirst and disease,” says Magdi al-Yazidi. “Those who have not left their homes are prisoners in their besieged villages around el-Qush and Shaikhan. They are simply coming to realize and old dream of fanatical Islamic rulers: wiping our community off the face of the earth.”
It is not only in Iraq that the army of the Caliph Abu Bakr is positioning itself for the “final solution” to the Yazidis. The community is also facing extermination in parts of Syria, notably in Ras al-Ayn and Hessak.
The Islamic State’ self-styled Caliph Abu Bakr al-BaghdadiPhoto: AP
“It has always been a dream of Islamic rulers to wipe us out,” Emir Muawwyyah bin Ismail, the leader of the Yazidis, told me back in the 1980s when he was forced into exile by Saddam Hussein.
The Emir had ended up in Paris after a long trek out of Iraq through Syria. Hussein had given him a choice between death and exile after the Emir issued a statement banning Yazidis from joining the despot’s army for a war against Iran.
After an initial meeting with the Emir, I managed to persuade him to speak about his community, its history and the Yazidi faith. He did, thus ending almost 15 centuries of esoteric tradition under which Yazidis pretended to be some sort of Muslims.
“The pretension was necessary to avoid genocide,” he told me.
Displaced Yazidi’sPhoto: Reuters; AP; Reuters; Reuters; Reuters; Getty Images; Getty Images; AP
Our conversations lasted over some six months and resulted in a book published under the title “To Us Spoke Zarathustra.”
A portrait of the prophet Zoroaster, founder of Zoroastrianism, a monotheistic religion that was the dominant religion in Persia before the Arab conquest.Photo: Getty Images
As far as fanatical Muslims are concerned, Yazidis must be classified among the heathen because they do not belong to any of the three Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Under Islamic rules, Jews and Christians are regarded as “people of the book” and thus could live among Muslims provided they pay a protection fee known as “dhimma.” Even if they wanted to, Yazidis cannot make use of that provision because they regard themselves as followers of Zoroaster, a prophet of ancient Iranian peoples who preached around 700 BC.
The belief system starts with the assertion that there is but one God, variously known as Izad, Yazdan or Xweda (Khoda in Persian).
Their one God shares the basic traits of Ahura-Mazda, the Wise God of Zoroaster. It is Ahura-Mazda who decided that a world should be created. But he subcontracts the task to a demiurge figure known as Tavous Malek (“The Peacock Angel”) who, assisted by six other angels each representing an aspect of natural life, shape the world as man knows it. As might have been expected, the sub-contractors, not having God’s divine infallibility, make some mistakes which leads to the emergence of evil in the world.
The Faravahar, a popular symbol of Zoroastrianism.Photo: Getty Images
In that context, the Good God needs the help of human beings to fight evil in a series of three battles, at the end of which the fate of the universe is decided forever. Thus, the Yazidis faith is the only religion in which God needs help from human beings, a concept that scandalizes fanatical Muslims who regard Allah as omnipotent and infallible. The Yazidi god can enter into a conversation with man; Allah cannot.
Man could help god by becoming “truly human,” Yazidis assert. According to one of their proverbs: “Just as the best sword is the sharpest, the best man is the most human.”
A view of the Bajed Kadal refugee camp, south west of Dohuk, Iraq where displaced Yazidi’s are staying after fleeing the violence of Islamic State fighters.Photo: Reuters
A peaceful people opposed to violence and bloodshed, Yazidis believe that no cause is worth killing people for, something that scandalizes fanatical Muslims who regard the spread of “The Only True Faith” by sword as a duty and the man who does it as the “Ghazi” (Holy Warrior) who is assured a place in paradise.
Displaced Yazidi’s travel towards the Syrian border.Photo: Reuters
The Yazidis tradition of equality between men and women, including the rejection of polygamy, also scandalizes their fanatical Muslim neighbors.
Kurdish Peshmerga forces hand out water bottles to Yazidi’s as they cross the Iraqi-Syrian border.Photo: Getty Images
Arab Sunnis also hate Yazidis because of their language, a variety of Kurdish, itself one of the 18 Iranic languages still alive in Western Asia.
The Yazidis claim to be the oldest religious community with a continuous existence in its own land. That may well be the case, at least as far as he estimated 600,000 Yazidis who live in Iraq are concerned. There are a further 1.8 million Yazidis in Syria, Turkey, Iran and Transcaucasia not to mention almost a million others in exile in more than 50 countries across the globe.
Iraq has always been a mosaic of peoples and faith. Six decades ago, 20% of Baghdad’s population consisted of Jews. Today there are only six Jews in the whole of Iraq. The Armenia community has shrunk by almost 90% while other Christian communities are also shrinking. Caliph Abu Bakr ’s dream is to have an Iraq empty of all non-Muslims so that he could embark on his second phase of his “purification” by organizing genocide against Shiites regarded as deviant Muslims.
The Caliph dreams of a hecatomb in Iraq. He must be stopped.