The Islamic State Group and the Tragedy of the Yazidis
The recent emergence of the radical so-called Islamic State in parts of Iraq and Syria and its cruel exercise of power has created outrage around the world. Last year, a broad-based international coalition was created with the aim of eliminating this dangerous terrorist organization.
One key impulse for more robust international military involvement against the Islamic State group last fall was its ferocious attack on the Yazidis, a small and little-known ethno-religious community living in northern Iraq. Horror stories of Islamic State fighters driving this minority from their homes to the mountains where hundreds of them died of hunger and dehydration, killing Yazidi men en masse, and raping and enslaving Yazidi women and girls showed the brutal order of the group’s self-declared caliphate.
Although the Kurdish-speaking Yazidi have been subject to mistreatment for centuries, they were never under such an existential threat as they have been during this recent rise in Islamic fundamentalism. Members of this ancient monotheistic religion, with roots in Zoroastrianism, are special targets for Islamic State extremists who are trying to “purify” their captured territories. Muslim radicals view Yazidi as apostates worshiping the devil. They force them to convert to Islam; those who refuse are killed.