Who are the Yezidis?
By Dimitri Pir Bari
Yezidism (Ezidizm or ezdiati in Kurdish) is one of the most ancient and mysterious religions in the Near East. Those Kurds practising this religion speak Kurmanji, a Kurdish dialect. The historical territory of Kurdistan is now divided between four modern countries: Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria. Most Yezidis live in southern Kurdistan (Northern Iraq, the Sheikhan area near Mosul, the Sinjar mountains), southwestern Kurdistan (Northern Syria), northwestern Kurdistan (southeastern Turkey), as well as in Armenia, Georgia, Russia, the Ukraine, the USA, Germany and other countries of Western Europe. The total Yezidi population is more than one million.
There are different opinions about Yezidi origins. It seems that the most reliable evidence suggests that this religion arose on the foundation of ancient Indo-Iranian beliefs which were probably close to Indo-Aryan ones. But they were interlaced with ancient Mesopotamian religions. However, like any other religion, Yezidism developed and transformed. Yezidis historically lived in a political climate that often compelled them to hide their belief. They performed their ceremonies in secret and passed on the foundations of their religion, legends, cosmological ideas, holy texts and prayers from one generation to another orally. [Read more…]
Who are the Yezidis?
by Timothy W. Hollifield
The Yezidi are perhaps one of the world’s most misunderstood and vulnerable ethno-religious minorities. While they have always endured the hardship, discrimination, and oppression shared by most minority groups in the Middle East, they were last year confronted with the very real possibility of genocide at the hands of ISIS terrorists.
The infamous brutality of ISIS terrorists has been well documented. While the United States, the EU, and the international community now acknowledge the threat posed by these terrorists, their violence against largely isolated religious and ethnic minorities in Northern Iraq since the summer of 2014 has been devastating.
These terrorists killed, kidnapped, raped, extorted, and intimidated the small and scattered communities of Assyrian Christians, Turkmen, Shabaks, and Yezidis who had been living – mostly in peaceful coexistence – in Northern Iraq and Syria for thousands of years. Religious and ethnic minorities have long been subjected to oppression and discrimination in this part of the world. However, the ethno-religious Yezidi minority is particularly vulnerable largely because of religious beliefs and practices long misrepresented and misunderstood by even their closest neighbors. [Read more…]