The Yezdi people are a small ethnic and religious minority and historically misunderstood group. There are only 700,000 Yezidis in the world, and the vast majority of these live in Iraq. The Yezidi religion is 6,000 years old and they have faced may years of oppression and persecution.

The ancient religion is rumoured to have been founded by an 11th century Ummayyad sheikh, and is derived from Zoroastrianism (an ancient Persian faith founded by a philosopher), Hinduism, Christianity and Islam. The religion has adopted different elements from each; baptism (Christianity), circumcision (Islam), a belief in reincarnation (Hinduism) to reverence of fire as a manifestation from God (derived from Zoroastrianism).

At the core of the Yazidis’ marginalization is their worship of a fallen angel, Melek Tawwus, or Peacock Angel, one of the seven angels that are integral to their beliefs. However, unlike the fall from grace of Satan, in both Islamic and Christian traditions, Melek Tawwus was forgiven and returned to heaven by God. The worship of Melek Tawwus by the Yazidis has given them an undeserved reputation for being devil-worshippers – a notoriety that, in the climate of extremism gripping Iraq, has turned life-threatening.

Today the terrorist group that calls itself “The Islamic State” is terrorising these ancient people, along with driving them off of lands they have occupied for thousands of years. They have also taken to selling Yezidi women and children into sexual slavery; Iraqi officials estimate that 3,793 Yezidi’s still remain in captivity.

It is very important for the world to know about the Yezidi people, what they are going through, and the beauty that their religion truly represents.


Watch a short video about the art project in Northern Iraq with Yezidi women.