First Published: 2018-01-12

Iraqi Yazidis celebrate restoration of temple destroyed by IS
Yazidi temple at Bashiqa was one of 68 Yazidi temples destroyed by IS, and one of the last of 23 in the region to be restored.
Middle East Online

Iraq's Yazidis adhere to a faith that emerged in Mesopotamia more than 4,000 years ago.

BAGHDAD - Northern Iraq's Yazidi community that suffered so terribly under Islamic State group persecution celebrated on Friday as it inaugurated a restored temple to the sound of traditional drums and flutes.

Overlooked by conical domes of polished stone, hundreds of men in dishdasha robes and women veiled in white gathered at the site which was blown up by the rampaging jihadists in 2014.

The temple at Bashiqa was one of 68 Yazidi temples destroyed by IS, officials said -- and one of the last of 23 in the region to be restored.

Iraq's Kurdish-speaking Yazidis adhere to a faith that emerged in Mesopotamia more than 4,000 years ago.

It is rooted in Zoroastrianism but has over time integrated elements of both Islam and Christianity.

Yazidis pray to God facing the sun and worship his seven angels -- the most important of which is Melek Taus, or Peacock Angel.

The Yazidi community in Iraq comprised some 550,000 people before it was scattered by the IS offensive.

Orthodox Muslims consider the peacock to be a demon figure and refer to Yazidis as devil-worshippers.

The jihadists murdered Yazidis in their thousands in 2014 and abducted thousands of women and teenage girls to make them sex slaves.

According to the religious affairs ministry in Iraqi Kurdistan, some 360,000 Yazidis were displaced by the fighting with 100,000 leaving the country.

Of 6,417 Yazidis reported kidnapped by the jihadists, just 3,207 have been rescued or managed to escape their captors. Half of those still missing are women and girls, the ministry said.

It also said that to date 47 mass graves of Yazidis massacred by IS have been discovered.

UN investigators have said the IS assault on the Yazidis was a premeditated effort to exterminate an entire community -- crimes that amount to genocide.

Friday's ceremony at the temple in the Bashiqa area some 15 kilometres (nine miles) east of Iraq's second city Mosul was an act of both revival and defiance.

"This ceremony shows that life has returned despite the terrorism of IS and its bloody attacks," said 21-year-old Jihan Sinan.

Around her, families posed for pictures as traditional dishes and sweets were handed out and celebrants danced to the tunes of traditional flutes.

Religious leader Ali Rashwakari, 72, urged the international community to help "rebuild the temples and Yazidi regions" of Iraq.

 

Kurdish militia fire rockets at Turkish town

Sudan clamps down on journalists covering bread protests

Egypt's Sisi says will stand for re-election

Pence heads to Mideast despite Muslim, Christian anger

US to overtake Saudi as world’s second crude oil producer

Moroccans wary depreciation of dirham could raise cost of living, despite benefits

Deserted streets, terrified civilians after Turkey attacks Afrin

Iraqi, Kurdish leaders hold talks on bitter regional dispute

Russia-led Syria peace congress to be held January 30

Turkey launches new strikes on Kurdish targets in Syria

Assad regime says Syria a 'tourist' destination

Journalists arrested while reporting Sudan protests

Aid for millions of Palestinians hostage to politics

Lebanon thwarts holiday attacks using IS informant

Mortar fire wounds 14 in Syria mental hospital

Turkish military fires on Kurdish forces in Syria's Afrin

More than 32,000 Yemenis displaced in intensified fighting

UN warns of "lost generation" in South Sudan's grinding conflict

Saudi's refined oil exports offset crude curbs

Turkey's EU minister rejects any option other than full membership

Tribal feuds spread fear in Iraq's Basra

Turkey says not reassured by US comments on border force

UN chief wants to revive Syria gas attack probe

US has no intention to build border force in Syria

Lebanese intelligence service may be spying using smartphones worldwide

Egypt's Sisi sacks intelligence chief

Trump dashes Netanyahu’s hope to move US embassy to Jerusalem

Cyprus denies bail for Israeli organ trafficker

Rising Yemen currency sparks hopes of relief

Turkish ministries to investigate underage pregnancy cover-up

Iraq PM launches online appeal for election allies

Iran central bank sees claim for billions from German stock market blocked

Iraq signs deal with BP to develop Kirkuk oil fields

Israeli occupation forces raid Jenin, kill Palestinian

HRW chief says 'Nobody should be forcibly returned to Libya'

IS poses threat to Iraq one month after 'liberation'

Seven years since ousting dictator, Tunisians still protest

Iran says Trump jeopardising Airbus deals

China says Iranian oil tanker wreck located

Sudan arrests communist leader after protests

Syrian opposition joins condemnation of US 'border force'

Israeli judge detains teen until trial for viral ‘slap video’

Arab league slams US freeze of Palestinian funding

Dubai billionaire to sell 15 percent Damac stake

Britain to put women at heart of peace work in Iraq, Nigeria, South Sudan