Like most people unfamiliar with the ethnic hodgepodge of northern Iraq, Father Patrick Desbois had not heard of the Yazidis before the summer of 2014 – when the Islamic State (IS) group carved a “caliphate” out of large parts of Syria and Iraq, and set about cleansing it of all “infidels”. “It is a cruel irony to first hear about a people when it faces annihilation,” Father Desbois tells FRANCE 24.Read on. Really, read on.
The Yazidis, thought to number some 400,000, are members of a religious sect whose beliefs borrow from several ancient Middle Eastern creeds. They live primarily in Iraq’s northern Nineveh Province, though Yazidi migrants and refugees have spread far and wide. It was a chance encounter with one of them in a barber’s shop in Brussels that set Father Desbois on their trail.
Two years on, the French priest has finished a book, published in October, about the Yazidis’ persecution at the hands of jihadist militants. Based on interviews with more than one hundred former IS group captives, the book, “La Fabrique des terroristes” (The Terror Factory), documents the killings, abductions and enslavements that have struck the Kurdish-speaking minority and chased it out of its ancestral lands.
For background on the Yazidis, their Gnosticism-themed religion, and their tragic fate in the hands of ISIS, see the recent posts here, here, and here, with many links. For the record, readers of PaleoJudaica have been hearing about the Yazidis since 2003. My first substantive post on them dealt with another atrocity committed against them in 2007. Note that April DeConick was writing about them then too.