The Yazidi faith is a mix of a number of different ancient religions, borrowing beliefs from Zoroastrianism, Islam, Christianity and Mithraism, among others. The sect has a long history of persecution, the Yazidis often speak of 72 massacres that have already been perpetrated against the people, ranging from the conquering Mongols to the purges of the Ottomans who had targeted the Yazidis multiple times, including during the Armenian genocide. The existence of the Yazidis became even more delicate after the 2003 US invasion of the country and the ousting of Saddam Hussein. In 2007, coordinated bombings in a Yazidi village in the North of Iraq killed an estimated 800 people. Many of the Christians living in the region fled Iraq to diaspora communities in Europe. Most Yazidis remained in their historical homeland, surrounded by the mountains and their shrines. This was however brought to an end when the Islamic State targeted them in its campaign of religious persecution.

Koen Kluessien