Yazidi (Yezidi)

© Adam Rifkin, Flickr

© Adam Rifkin, Flickr

The most well-documented and widely-oppressed peoples in modern Iraqi Kurdistan are the Yazidi (also spelled Yezidi). Kurdish followers of the Yazidi religion have been called “devil-worshipers,” but are a widely misunderstood people.[1]

Yazidism is a religion that fits under the larger banner of Yazdanism, a term coined by Dr. Merhad Izady to describe the pre-Abrahamic religions of Kurdistan.

Yazidi Community in Iraq

As Kurdish speakers and non-Muslims, Yazidis in Iraq have historically suffered the same persecution as the other Kurds in Iraq. The Kurdish Yazidis suffered from displacement under Saddam Hussein’s regime, and have been recently featured in the news as an ethnoreligious group that the self-styled Islamic State (IS) has been persecuting in Syria and Iraq.[2]

The Yazidis are not Christians, and in fact, reject the idea of sin, the devil, and hell itself.[3]

Yazidi Persecution

The Yazidi people have been persecuted frequently over the last few centuries, most recently by the so called Islamic State. Yazidis are seeking refuge in Iraqi Kurdistan, where more than 2 million refugees have fled.

Iraqi Kurdistan and the Kurdistan Regional Government have stepped in to help defend the Yazidi community and its ancient history and culture. If the KRG is expected to roll back, and ultimately defeat ISIS, they will need more help from the West.