Nearly 300 members of the Yezidi community in Lincoln held a demonstration on Saturday, on the 24th May 2014, whose purpose was to draw attention to the escalating violence and terrorism of Islamic extremists against Yezidis in Iraq. Lincoln is home to the largest Yezidi community in the United States, where approximately about 200 families live in its various districts. Many of them are refugees which fled from the town of Rabia, an Iraqi city which is located near the Syrian border. According to estimates about 900 families have left their own country due to persecution, massacres and for fear of their lives.
“They forced families to leave their farms – their only source of life”, said Hadi Ali. “And that´s why we are here. We are here for everybody and the American government, to tell that we need help.”
The Yezidi community declared that the Iraqi government has to enforce the laws which are designed to protect minority groups.
Two weeks earlier around 2000 Yezidis protested in the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar, mainly populated by Yezidis, against the killings and forced expulsion of Yezidis after four members of the religious minority were murdered on May 8 in Rabia/Sinjar/Iraq by insurgents, probably by Islamists of the ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant).
Local residents told that the militants raided their house and shot the four victims in front of the family. The Yezidis worked in an agricultural family business. Two days earlier a similar incident took place in the region of Rabia.
After the recent killings Islamists published an ultimatum, claiming Yezidis to leave the area within the next 24 hours, otherwise they would be killed. As a consequence around 900 Yezidi families fled from their houses.
The town of Sinjar is located in the “disputed areas”, where both the Iraqi government and the autonomous regional government in Iraqi-Kurdistan are not in agreement about its affiliation. The demonstrators demanded protection by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the international community.
550.000 Yezidis live in Iraq. They have faced a long period of discrimination, in particular in the field of education and employment in Iraq due to their different religious beliefs and traditions. But last year religiously motivated violence escalated and death threats became more serious.
“We ask the KRG and its president, Masoud Barzani, to protect us from the attacks of the Islamists”, demanded a protestor in Sinjar.
Extremist Muslims label the Yezidis as “devil worshippers”. And yet the Yezidi monotheistic faith community is one of the oldest in the world.
For more information about the Yezidi religion and the origin of their diverse traditions please pay attention to the Memorandum of the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) about the minority of Yezidis. There you will get to know the history, the disadvantages in everyday life and watersheds of their freedom of religion as well as the situation of Yezidis in Germany.
Source: “Auf der Flucht – Islamisten machen vermehrt Jagd auf Yeziden im Irak” by Lisa Marie Quelle. Translated by Ezidipress