Who are the Yazidis

Yazidis came into the headlines as ISIS terrorized the world. The ethnic minority group was specifically targeted for their beliefs and were seen as unworthy and infidels. Originating from Iraq, Yazidis were referred to as devil worshippers by many Muslims. One can only be born into the religion and cannot convert to it. The persecution comes from a misunderstanding of their name. Sunni extremists believe it to be derived from “Yazid ibn Muawiya”, who was an unpopular caliph. In actuality, their name means worshippers of god. Their faith centers around a fallen angel forgiven by God and sent to Earth to be His representative. In both Christianity and Islam, a “fallen angel” is understood to be Satan, which may have been the cause of discrimination against Yazidis.

Many of their beliefs come from Christianity but turn both to the Bible and the Koran.

They're open to Christianity, even baptizing their children, which is a tradition adopted from Christianity. Yazidis know about Jesus, even knowing Scripture of His spoken word, but remain fearful of evil powers and Satan. Because of this fear, they perform rituals that honor and respect evil entities to keep them away.

In August of 2014, the Islamic State attacked the Yazidi community in Sinjar, northern Iraq in what is called by the United Nations as a genocide. As they retreated into the mountains, they had no food or water and were trapped for days. Many died as a result.

Those who were not able to escape were captured and force to convert. Men and older women were killed while the younger females were sexually assaulted, tortured and became slaves. Many families or even clans were buried alive. We met Sefyan back in Duhok, and he was the only survivor male with his two sisters, who managed to flee and leave 83 of their family to face a mass burying… Alive!

Here are some more accounts of the terrible atrocities done to Yazidis:

Ikhlas was 17 years old when we met her and her mother at a refugee house in Duhok. The 6-room house was unfinished, made of concrete, where a family lived in each room. Each family has a devastating story to tell. Our NFGM team was overcome by depression after their visit. Ikhlas was a victim of sex trafficking where she was sold to 100 men in 6 months. When the team met her, she wore no expression on her face, likely in trauma from what she had already experienced at such a young age. The team connected her with a German non-profit who helped her to get Germany, where she received treatment from severe trauma. Today, she is an advocate for and the face of Yazidi human rights and is doing much better.

Jeelan was abducted by ISIS along with her two kids. Because she is married, some groups no longer consider her marriage material, as she is categorized as impure. They forced her with her children to fill gunpowder in the bombs that ISIS would use to bombard her own village and her own people.

Haya was only 9 years old when she became pregnant, a result of having come into puberty exceptionally early. She was just recovered from ISIS where she was brutally assaulted numerous times by men. The poor girl was unable to speak or communicate from the trauma.

It is painful to have to imagine or comprehend the depth of torment humans subject their fellow humans to. It was reported that ISIS killed about 10,000 Yazidis and captured over 6,000 during their reign of terror. Many are still missing while those who survived are still displaced with no home to return to, especially those who are from Sinjar. Some feel safer living in refugee camps.

Thankfully, unlike other religious groups that may shame, condemn or reject victims of sexual abuse, Yazidis welcomed their women back and did all they could to help the victims heal.

NFGM’s mission trips seek to assist this ethnic minority group as they live in desolation and in abject poverty. As their homes are ruined by war, they have no place to stay and no financial means to rebuild their houses. Aid to help release those who are missing has also waned, as public attention is no longer on the plight of Yazidis. At NFGM, we continue to help in our own capacity by providing - depending on the season and their needs- winter blankets, fans for tents, solar chargers, kids sports shoes, among other needs

NFGM earnestly suggests prayers for this group, for healing and the Truth to penetrate their hearts.

Sources:

https://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-magazine-monitor-28686607

https://www.nrc.no/news/2018/december/five-things-you-should-know-about-the-yazidis/

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