Yazidis’ Life of Prayer

Trudeau called prioritising them for refugee status “disgusting“:

By the time 17-year-old Sabah Jalal Mirad reaches Lalish temple at 8 a.m., he’s already been awake for three hours, sometimes four. The alarm on his phone wakes him in time for sunrise, when he raises his forehead towards the sky and begins to pray.

Over a breakfast of yogurt and eggs, his father reads the family a hymn. That night, he’ll light a candle and read another.

“I’d never thought about my religion until ISIL attacked us in August 2014,” Sabah recalls. “My family fled to Mount Sinjar to hide, but we had no food or water for 10 days, and I felt like I was being burned alive by the sun. I started praying without realizing what I was doing.” …

(Sidebar: for this, Trudeau recommended parkas.)

It has been almost two years since ISIL attacked the Shingal province of Northern Iraq. The genocide saw the terror group capture more than 10,000 members of the Yazidi community and kill up to 4,400 — half of whom were shot, beheaded or burned alive. The rest are thought to have died of starvation and dehydration while seeking safety in the nearby mountains. While the head of security at Lalish temple, Arsan Saed, 39, says the site has been at the top of ISIL’s target list for more than two years, the threat of attack has not deterred thousands of Yazidis from going there in search of sanctuary and support since the massacre. “We did increase our security team from 20 to 120,” he says. “But on a daily basis, our job is just to ensure nobody tries to smuggle wine into the temple. These days there are so many visitors here that even when ISIL are defeated, we’ll still need this many guards on site.” …

Many of those who were enslaved by ISIL are also finding that religion is helping to heal the psychological trauma. In August 2014, Sausan Husein Khalaf, 18, was captured outside her home in Solakh and forced to marry a militant three times her age. When she was smuggled out to safety in March this year, one of the first things she did was ask to be rebaptized into the faith. She cries at the memory. “I needed to feel like I was part of something again,” she says. “I felt like I’d forgotten who I was.”

“ISIL stole our independence,” Baba Sheikh agrees. “Before 2014, probably 95 per cent of Yazidis just dreamed of buying new houses or faster cars or getting better jobs. But when everything you’ve worked towards is gone, you have to work together to find a new identity that nobody can rip away. ISIL can try to take our houses and our hopes – but they can’t take away our culture, and they can’t take away our faith.”



Media in the West have been slow to focus on terrorism targeted at Christians. It doesn’t quite fit the conventional narrative: other groups, religious or national, are more likely to be persecuted. But Open Doors USA, a long-established agency for the protection of Christians around the world, recently noted that serious incidents of persecution have been increasing at an alarming rate. David Curry, president of Open Doors, says their research reveals “the worst levels of persecution in modern times.”