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Recognise Yazidism as a religion, charity urges other faith groups

06 July 2018

AMAR

The panel at AMAR’s Chatham House event on Monday: (left to right) Dr Neil Quilliam, a senior research Fellow of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Chatham House; one of the 12 apostles of the Church of LDS, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland; the founding chair of AMAR, Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne; AMAR’s general director in Iraq, Dr Ali Muthanna; and the Principal of Cumberland Lodge, Canon Ed Newell

The panel at AMAR’s Chatham House event on Monday: (left to right) Dr Neil Quilliam, a senior research Fellow of the Middle East and North Afric...

YAZIDISM should be recognised as a world religion by other faith groups to stop future persecution, a new report has said.

The report The Third Windsor Conference: The final chapter was released after the third annual conference hosted by the international charity AMAR. Faith leaders from around the world, including the Bishop of Derby, Dr Alastair Redfern, contributed to it. It is supported by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), and the educational charity Cumberland Lodge.

The report says: “Recognition of Yazidism as a world faith will be critical to not only preventing the persecution of the Yazidi community, but also helping transform attitudes amongst the world’s other great religions towards communities persecuted because of faith.”

It builds on the recommendations that followed from the second conference (News, 15 September 2017): that the United Nations and the international community must prioritise the mental health and well-being of refugees and IDPs (internally displaced persons), especially the Yazidi community, and recognise the rehabilitating part played by faith and music.

The report says: “The third and final Windsor Conference aims to deliver a short report and methodology that can be used by persecuted communities to develop their own agency and leverage the support of the United Nations and international community in a timely and effective manner.”

Using case studies of persecuted and marginalised groups, such as the LDS, Native Americans, Ahmadis, and Huguenots, the report suggests ways that persecuted groups can be helped in the future.

The methodology is based on elements such as: “Active participation with communities affected by persecution, conflict, and displacement”; drawing upon the support of formerly persecuted communities; convening ‘intense and insightful’ meetings; benefiting from the support of the C of E and Lambeth Palace, and of the founder and chair of AMAR, Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne; and using the leaders of the communities for the discussion.

Lady Nicholson said that something needed to be done to tackle “the horrors” of religious persecution: “AMAR’s all-Iraqi teams of medical professionals have witnessed the terrible consequences of religious persecution against the poor Yazidi women and girls, who were kidnapped, tortured, and held as slaves by the monsters of Daesh (IS). Thousands of Yazidi men were murdered, and their women raped, beaten, and humiliated.

“We have been providing medical care and psychiatric and psychological support for many thousands of these poor, peaceful people, but we are also absolutely determined to prevent this genocidal behaviour ever happening again.

“The Yazidis have been subjected to 74 genocides over the centuries, purely because of the mistaken belief that they are devil worshippers. Utter nonsense of course, but it was used as a justification to try and wipe them out.”

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