Friday, June 10, 2005

Michael Yon on the Yezidi

Nope. Never heard of them, but now I know.
I'm late to scene discovering Michael Yon. His essays and pictures of Iraq are among the best journalism coming out of the war. His archives starts in January. The number of reports is surprisingly short. But qualitatively, it is the genuine article; tight, well-organized, readable and appealing. If you haven't already, it's time to bookmark. Before you leave the link, be sure to click "Home" and take a look at the pictures.

Some believe Yezidism is over 5,000 years old, while others claim thousands of years older. Nobody seems to know. The Yezidis have their own fuzziness on dates, and for the Yezidis it seems enough to say that theirs is the oldest religion in the world. The Hindus of India make the same claim about their religion, while others in Nepal and Tibet make calendar claims of their own....Not only do shards of Judeo-Christianity glint in this amalgam, but a close look also reveals pieces of Hinduism, especially in the prominence of castes. There are five Yezidi castes--depending on who one asks--the "most important" being the Pir, then Shaikh, Kawal, Murabby, and finally the Mureed (the follower). Descriptions of the Mureed are similar to the Dalits of Hinduism. The Yezidis are strictly forbidden to marry outside the Yezidi, and must marry within their caste....

Saddam Hussein's hatred for Yezidis and Kurds was matched only by his desire to eradicate every last one of them from Iraq. Even though most Kurds are actually Sunni Muslims, as is the now imprisoned dictator, his hatred for them remained unabated, and was relentless. Hussein knew that a collision of religious beliefs carved fault lines between the Yezidis and the Kurds who surround them. He used his common point of reference with the Kurds to sharpen their divide from the Yezidis, by calling them "Devil Worshippers." But just because the Yezidis don't have a Satan figure in their holy book, doesn't mean they can't spot a devil when they see one. Together with the Kurds, they resisted Hussein's will. Today, while the real peacock sits in jail, the unvanquished Yezidis are rebuilding their homeland.

No comments: