The Yazidis are Kurdish-speaking people that adhere to the religion Yazidism. Yazidism is a religion rooted in Persian religions blended with elements of pre-Islamic religious traditions, Mithraism, Christianity and Islam. In addition to the Kurdish-speaking majority, there are significant Yazidi communities that speak Arabic as their native language. Their ethnicity is obscure despite the fact that they mostly speak Kurdish. Commentators identify the Yazidis as predominately Kurds but according to some sources, they tend to regard themselves as distinct from Kurds.

The United Nations recognizes the Yazidis as a distinct ethnic group. A report from Human Rights Watch (HRW) declares that to incorporate disputed territories in northern Iraq-particularly the Nineveh province- into the Kurdish region, KRG and Kurdish authorities have embarked on a two-pronged strategy of inducement and repression. The Kurdish authorities are working hard to impose Kurdish identity on two of the most vulnerable minorities in Iraq, the Yazidis and the Shabaks. Their principal holy site is in Lalish, northeast of Mosul.

Yazidis discourage marriage outside the community and even across their caste system. Their unique beliefs and practices, some are known to refrain from eating lettuce and wearing the colour blue, have often been misconstrued as satanic. 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 take primacy in their beliefs. Orthodox Muslims consider the peacock a demon figure and refer to Yazidis as devil worshipers.

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