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Killers target Yazidis in Iraq attack

16 August 2007

by Bill Bowder

AN ANCIENT religion, Yazidi, which began at about the same time as Christianity, is the latest casualty of terrorist attacks in Iraq.

At least 175 Yazidi were killed and hundreds more injured on Tuesday, when four suicide-bombers drove fuel tankers into their homelands in Sinjar, near Mosul, where Yazidi have lived for centuries.

The area is a contested spot that cuts off Arab tribes from their southern counterparts, an Iraqi expert, who did not wish to be identified, said on Wednesday.

Yazidi ministers had formed part of the Iraqi government, and they were named in the constitution of Iraq in 2005, he said. One reason for the attack could be that extremists want to stop Kurds in northern Iraq, a relatively stable area, extending its safe haven southwards for minorities, such as the Yazidi and Christians. The insurgents could not attack the Kurdish regional government, so they attacked the Yazidi instead.

The areas around Mosel were home to minorities. Christians have acknowledged that they could be safer in Kurdistan, but, if they moved, they would lose their autonomy (News, 11 May). Although Yazidi are not Arabs, they want to remain Iraqi.

The Iraqi expert feared that extremists were also trying to create an area south of Mosul that was free of Kurds, Christians, and Yazidi. The Yazidi were not considered “people of the Book”, and popular Muslim opinion mistakenly saw them as worshippers of the devil, “which clearly they are not”, he said.

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