The Yezidis, an ancient religion based in the Kurdish region of Iraq, are entering a period of greater freedom after years of repression and loss of their tribal lands.
The Sydney Morning Herald (July 26) reports that many Yezidis were swept up in Saddam Hussein’s anti-Kurdish crackdown of the 1980s. More recently, the tribal religion lost more than 60 villages when Sunni Muslim Arabs transplanted from the south took them over. But most of the Arabs fled shortly after the start of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, leading the group’s hereditary ruler, Emir Tasseen Sayid Ali Bak, to believe that the region and its capital Shekhen will now be incorporated into the nearby Kurdish autonomous zone.
Part of the reason for the Yezidis repression has been the misunderstanding that they are devil worshippers. Actually, they believe that God created seven angels to serve him, but that when tested only one remained loyal. There are thousands of Yezidis in Turkey, Syria, Georgia, Russia, Germany and Australia.