Beliefs Culture Ethics Politics

Islamic State accused of capturing Yazidi women and forcing them to convert, or else

Oil on canvas painting of Melek Taus.

(RNS) Senior leaders in Iraq’s minority Yazidi community say their wives and daughters, forcibly held by Islamic militants, are being given a choice: Convert to Islam and marry jihadists — or else.

Mirza Dinnayi, a senior Yazidi leader and a former adviser on minority affairs to the Iraqi president, said he has spoken on the phone with several women who cry out to him: “I love my husband; my faith is Yazidi.”

Others have attested to harsh treatment bestowed on members of the religious minority by the Islamic State militant group since its gunmen captured parts of Iraq earlier this week.

As many as 200,000 Yazidis left their homes in the Sinjar region of northwestern Iraq. Untold thousands are believed dead and at least several hundred women and children are being held prisoners.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands are stranded on the Sinjar mountain range without access to food or water in an ongoing humanitarian crisis.

Even in a long history marred by persecution, this week’s tragic events stood out.

Prince Tahseen Said, the 81-year-old leader of the community, who has lived through many exiles and massacres, has called it the worst violence against Yazidis in his lifetime and beseeched the international community to intervene.

Yazidis are a Kurdish-speaking people who follow an ancient religion blending elements of Zoroastrianism, Islam, Christianity and local folk beliefs. Several hundred thousand followers live in Sinjar and Sheikhan, two regions just west and east of Mosul.

Smaller communities of Yazidis live in Syria, Armenia and Germany.

Oil on canvas painting of Melek Taus.

Photo courtesy of Jennie Rosenbaum via Flickr

Oil-on-canvas painting of Melek Taus, a peacock deity.

At their unique conical temples, they worship a peacock deity called Melek Taus and hold elaborate ceremonies that involve fire and water.

“Yezidism is a syncretic religion that takes from a variety of different traditions, some Zoroastrianism, Islamic and a little bit of animism,” said Austin Long, professor of international affairs at Columbia University in New York.  “It’s a mixed religion with a long-standing history in Iraq. Most are Kurds, ethnically.”

Through the centuries, Yazidis have often been persecuted by Muslims who say the faith is forbidden. In 2007, hundreds of Yazidis in Sinjar died in a series of massive explosions orchestrated against them by al-Qaida in Iraq — the precursor of the Islamic State.

In recent months, Sunni radicals have made huge gains in northern Iraq, killing thousands of Christians, Shiites and other minority religious groups. But the fall of Sinjar, which was being protected by the robust Kurdish militia, came as a surprise.

Since then, the Islamic State has continued to push into Kurdish territory and is now threatening Sheikhan, the other area where Yazidis are concentrated.

“We have thousands now fleeing,” said Dinnayi. “We have no help. No support from international community.”


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Gil Shefler


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  • Ah…be super duper scared. Demand at once we revive the US economy with a GDP boosting military intervention to impose an american way of life on another part of the world.

    I’m sure they will thank us later and not hate us. I’m further certain your grandchildren will be ok with the new debt said intervention will create.

  • Tens of thousands of people are being enslaved killed in what can only be described as genocide by everyone and suddenly Lles is indifferent and isolationist?

    What gives?

  • I must have caught the zionist spirit. If its good for one religion, it must be good for another.

  • @ Lies Nats,
    You appear to lack empathy with your fellow humans. That hardness of heart is the most hateful result of religious intolerance. Jesus spoke out against this in his parable of the good Samaritan.

  • we need to support them and I support any action/aid..we need to continue jonahs mission to nineveh (aka present day mosul)

  • @Samuel Johnston,

    I can’t slip Jesus credit where it is not due. Jesus is too evil for that.

    You brought up The Good Samaritan.
    This is a parable which preaches the Golden Rule; a far more ancient moral code than whatever Jesus brought to the story.

    The Samaritan, who may have been an Atheist for all we know (he couldn’t have been Christian), only does what he would want others to do for him ( For the record, his actions never rise to “love thy neighbor” unless you want to use “care for thy neighbor” in that way).

    But we now know from evolutionary biology that The Golden Rule
    can be found not only in all primates, but across the animal kingdom
    as a vital moral code – it is clearly a key to survival for many species.

    The Golden Rule is a phenomenon and is expressed in hundreds of philosophies throughout history – it requires no gods and it is an excellent moral code.
    The best parts of the New Testament are merely variations of the Golden Rule –
    Again, something Jesus had NO part in.

    Most of Jesus’ preachings are criminal
    which is why Christians behave so badly.
    The idea of vicarious redemption through the torture of another person is spectacularly evil.

    So Jesus takes credit for something he did not invent (The Golden Rule)
    and he gets no credit for how wildly he steers AWAY from that decent code in most of his preachings which are hate filled, contradictory and *yet* absolutist.

    Nobody preached more against the Golden Rule than did Jesus.
    Who would want
    any of these things
    ‘done unto them’ :

    Jesus didn’t forgive his enemies – he sent them to Hell! (Mark 16:16)
    Jesus cursed his enemies – “Thou Fools!”(Matt. 23:17)
    Jesus stole things – “untie them” ..”bring them to me” (Matt. 21:2-3)
    Jesus destroyed his enemies – “execute them in front of me”(Luke 19:27)
    Jesus didn’t love most of his neighbors, – They are ‘Dogs’!(Matthew 15:26)
    Jesus told people to judge others – “Remove your blessings”!(Matt 10:14)
    Jesus was bigoted – “They are swine” (Matthew 7:6)
    Jesus violently whipped people – attack on the temple (John 2:5)
    Jesus didn’t want peace – “I do not bring peace.”(Matt 10:34)
    Jesus lied to people – “He went in secret” (John 7:8-13)
    Jesus prepared for war – “if you have money, buy a sword” (Luke 22:36-37)

    If it is impossible for Jesus to live up to Christianity. Perhaps someone should examine exactly what they think this is really all about.

    Jesus is ravenously immoral.
    He strays far and wide from whatever the Samaritan did.

  • Samuel: Save the preaching. We in America pick and choose which religions we allow to murder freely and whom.

  • Don’t be too sure about that evolution stuff Max. Chimps do NOT follow any golden rule. If they believe that you are alone and without backup, they can do things that will permanently CONVINCE you that they do not follow the Golden Rule.

    “But as early as 1974, researchers in Gombe National Park in Tanzania had been startled to observe chimpanzee males organizing gangs of a half-dozen or so members and launching lethal raids into the territory of neighboring chimps. These were clearly not food-gathering expeditions. The chimps did not stop to eat, and they did not make any of their normal calls and shouts. Instead, they crept silently into the territory of a neighboring group and hid until they saw a lone chimp. Screaming with excitement, they would ambush the victim, hold him immobile and beat him to death, sometimes twisting the victim’s leg until the muscles ripped, or tearing off flaps of skin while he was still alive.”

    “In one well-documented case in Tanzania, a group of male chimpanzees used such ambushes to eliminate a whole band of neighbors.”

    Tom Pelton, Harvard Magazine, 1997

  • Hi Max,
    The parable of the good Samaritan was an explanation of who is my “neighbor” whom God has commanded us to love, as we love ourselves. It stands on it own (attribution suspect), as do so all biblical accounts. Personally, I subscribe to this demanding view, in contrast to the “Golden Rule”, which is a rather mundane bit of practical advice – and yes even monkeys keep account of favors.

  • A little bit of stupidity goes a long way! It’s this kind of bigoted and ignorant comment that you see in Mosel killing Christians and Muslims!

    Besides there’s no such thing as an Atheist ! You are a pissed off Christian and a fake!

    People beware of this troll!

  • @Jeremiah,

    “bigoted and ignorant …” ?? ME?

    1. – If it is not bigoted to PREACH JESUS it cannot be bigoted to WARN PREACH AGAINST JESUS!

    2. – Muslims are only KILLING because that is what your God wants!
    “SLAY THEM wherever you find them…as Allah’s religion reigns supreme.” (Surah 2:190-)


    Faith is a cancer to the world. How obvious can this nonsense BE?

  • Hi Samuel,

    “The parable of the good Samaritan was an explanation of who is my “neighbor” whom God has commanded us to love, as we love ourselves.”

    You are exactly correct about Jesus’ intention.
    You are correct that the purpose of the parable.

    My only quibble here is that Jesus failed to explain why the Samaritan’s treatment of his neighbor is NOT the Golden rule – to ‘love’ as in ‘to love as one loves oneself’.

    “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you” is older than Jesus. And to me, it seems to be exactly what the Samaritan does.

  • @Doc,

    “Chimps do NOT follow any golden rule.”

    You do not know what you are talking about. We inherit a sense of fairness: we have no choice in the matter at all.

    ALL primates DO show a very strong sense of fairness
    And that is all The Golden Rule really is: “Treat people fairly” or “Treat others as you would prefer to be treated yourself.”

    There are hundreds of versions of the Golden Rule – you inherited it from your parents. It is a godless morality. You don’t need a god to make it work.

    All of the studies in Evolutionary socio-biology have shown this this sense of fairness very conclusively and the models indicate that it is why the higher mammals have survived so many millions of years. We could not live without it.

    Many of the experiments are easily available on youtube.
    Look for “tests for fairness in primates” and look at the related studies.

    Millions of pages from reliable journals have shown
    “sense of fairness” to be the true Morality and it is the result of evolution.

  • Wow!!!!!!!!!!!! Have you lost that primal desire you claim. For if you still had it you would use your time anf words to support action. Obviously this is for Atheist Max. As a Christian I don’t read half quotes of the bible as you have tried to utter here. Study to show thyself approved, sounds like something some one with something to hide would say, right, not! So to you Max your hatred of God is only a reflection of your own hatred for yourself and the endless desire to be more than the mere mortal that you are. Now back to the point. I am sure that any of us would say we are thankful that we do not worship Nazi God’s and still enjoy our freedom as the grandkids who inherited that dept.

  • @ -AM- There is only one place “treating others like we would be treated” could come from… A higher supernatural Mind; not a stunted earthly religion. Man is not on the ascension he is on the decline; don’t waste 44 years of perception of erring religious men to prove that! You are only a few degrees from the truth look higher than the mechanics!

  • @Christian American,

    ” I am sure that …we are thankful that we do not worship Nazi Gods…”

    Excuse me? Have you read the Bible? Don’t you know your own god?


    “The master shall cut him to pieces” – Jesus (Luke 12) JESUS describes what he intends to do to his own enemies, whoever they may be.


    “..bring to me those enemies of mine who would not have me as their King, and execute them in front of me.” (Luke 19:27)


    “Drown him with a millstone” (Matt 18:6),


    “And why do you break the command of God
 for the sake of your tradition? …. ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ ” (Matthew 15:3)


    “…if it is not worthy, take back your blessing of peace.” (Matt 10:13)


    “I have come to bring FIRE…What constraints! I am impatient to bring..DIVISION.” (Luke 12:49-51)


    “Hate your parents…hate your life”(Luke 14:26)


    “Eat of my body” and “Be baptized and believe” or “Be condemned to Hell” (John 6:53-54) (Mark 16:16).

  • @Michael Glass,

    “The plight of the Yazidis has been forgotten in the headlong rush
    to argue about beliefs…These people
    are being persecuted and slaughtered
    because of their beliefs.”

    I wonder if religious people even read what they write?

    Don’t you understand that beliefs are optional?
    Nobody needs to be Christian or Muslim or Jew if they don’t want to be.
    And there is no evidence any of it is based on a true god.

  • @Art,

    “There is only one place ‘treating others like we would be treated’ could come from… A higher supernatural Mind”


    Evolution made us to be protective of our offspring and our families. This tribalism is built into our brain circuitry! We protect our own and we are HARD WIRED to protect each other – unless we are given reasons (religion) not to!

  • I am so thankful that I don’t have to have any of you in my life. What poor excuses of humanity you are. Disgusted that I have to share space on this planet with such abysmal jerks.

  • Jesus is all Good Lord Willin read n believe PLGB

    ‘h’ll’ be such a thing He Does not ‘send’ one too. Lord Knows what i deserve prolly. but repentance n prayer/praise Lord Willin PLGB

    Lord Willin Lord Forgive be i or any wrong or offbase

  • Why is it that stories about Islamic death threats and actual butchery (the heads of beheaded kids paraded around on a stick) become soft-pedaled and simply–or else? Or else what? How about genocide, or a modern Holocaust of Christians and Yazidis.

  • From where?

    Sometimes I get the impression you are living under a reality proof dome.

    I don’t see this being soft pedaled by anyone except for maybe isolationists of the conservative/libertarian bent. Those who look for excuses to stand idly by while evil flourishes.

    This mess with ISIS started because we didn’t want to get involved with Syria. We let Saudi Arabia do it. Now the Saudi backed Syrian armies spilled over to Iraq. About the only thing keeping them from spilling out into Jordan is the fact that Israel would intervene on Jordan’s behalf.

  • Truly religion is a poison… Like cocaine… People love it too much… Will do anything for it…