By Juan Cole • August 10, 2014
By Petr Kubalek via RFE/RL
Islamic militants this week encircled thousands of members of the Yazidi minority in northern Iraq, prompting the Obama administration to carry out humanitarian air drops to the refugees who fled their homes to Mount Sinjar. Here are answers to six questions about the Yazidi people, religion, and history.
Who Are The Yazidis?
The Yazidis are socio-religious group that is traditionally rural — namely farmers or shepherds — and whose members are primarily native Kurdish speakers. Their numbers worldwide likely do not exceed 1 million.
The traditional community leader, who carries the title “mir,” or “prince,” resides in the town of Ain Sifni, east of the city of Mosul in northern Iraq. The main Yazidi temple is nearby in the valley of Lalish, considered a holy site among the Yazidis. The famous British mystery writer Agatha Christie…
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