The Nobel Peace Prize to Nadia Murad Basee Taha, a Germany-based Iraqi Yazidi human rights activist, has once again brought Iraq’s oldest and most persecuted minority – Yazidis – into the spotlight.
Scattered in the regions of Sinjar, Dohuk and Mosul, Yazidis are a Kurdish religious minority. Their religion is an amalgamation of Zoroastrianism, Sufism and Kurdish values.
According to scholars, Yazidism was an ancient faith with a rich oral tradition that integrated some Islamic beliefs with elements of the ancient Persian religion of Zoroastrianism, and a mystery religion of Mithraism which originated in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Although their exact origin has always been a disputed matter, many scholars believed that Yazidism was formed when the Sufi leader Abu-ibn-Musafir settled in Kurdistan during the twelfth century. He is believed to have founded a community which obeyed a mixture of the Islamic elements and pre-Islamic beliefs.
Originally, inhabitants of Iraq’s region, they had no basic affinity with the Muslims. Seemingly, they appeared to like them from their very living style and names. Their apparent label of Yazidis was least linked with Yezid-ibn-Muaviah. However, they have been targeted by extremist Islamist group ISIS. As a result, several Yazidis have been persecuted and many have been displaced.
The Nobel Prize recognises Nadia’s long struggle against sex slavery after she was captured, raped, and sold multiple times by ISIS.
Her escape is testimony of her bravery and resolve. She is an active voice against atrocities against Yazidi community.