The following article was originally published in Rudaw.
BABIRE, Kurdistan Region — Residents in the predominantly Yezidi township of Babire have nearly completed the reconstruction of the Baate Shrine, one of the first Yezidi holy sites captured and wrecked by the Islamic militants in August 2014.
With seven domes surmounting the tomb, the newly reconstructed Baate Shrine has given renewed hope to the local people who witnessed perhaps the largest destruction of their holy sites in modern times.
According to Iraqi official estimates, the militants destroyed 68 Yezidi shrines and worship places across the Nineveh Plains where most Yezidi sites are located.
The majority of the demolished shrines are ordinary worship places which the Yezidis turn to in times of prayers, weddings and funerals.
The village of Lalish located in the Kurdistan Region, which contains the most sacred temples in the Yezidi faith, was unharmed during the ISIS rampage else where in Nineveh as militants failed to gain control of the area.
“By rebuilding the shrine, we want to send a message that we survived and won’t abandon our faith,” said Farouq Shekh Fakhri a young Yezidi who celebrated the renovation of Baate Shrine with his fellow Yezidis.
The shrine was rebuilt after residents started a campaign and raised money for the project.
According to an Iraqi parliament report, nearly 430,000 Yezidis were driven out of their homes in the first days of the ISIS offensive which also destroyed 68 shrines, some prehistoric.
This article originally appeared in Rudaw.