These are the Iraqi minorities under threat from Isis

These are the Iraqi minorities under threat from Isis


There are reportedly 40,000 people from the Yazidi community stranded on a barren mountaintop in northern Iraq. Their choice: stay and die of thirst, or go back and be killed by Isis.

Yazidis, of whom there are thought to be between 500k-700k, are an ethno-religious group linked to the Kurds thought to have lived in Iraq since around the 11th century when their religion was created.

The faith borrows heavily from Zoroastrianism, a Persian religion, but also has elements of Christianity and Islam - although it is distinctly non-Abrahamic.

Their worship of a "fallen angel" - which Isis liken to Satan - is the reason they have been described by the Islamists as “devil worshippers and apostates".


Sadly, the Yazidi are not the only minority in Iraq being persecuted by Isis. As Quartz reports, the Shabak people are much smaller in size than the Yazidi, but are equally under threat.

Their faith is more complex and also derived from several other religions - with some Shabak identifying themselves with Shia Islam, in contrast to Isis, who are Sunni.


With ethnic links to the Ottoman Empire, Turkmen are a large minority in Iraq with estimates of their population varying widely from 600k to 3m.

Parts of the group are thought to have lived in the region since around the 7th century when their ancestors migrated from the north.

Although there is a fairly even split between Sunni and Shia, the Shia members of the population are under threat from Isis, with many of their places of worship having been destroyed.


Isis provided a strict deadline last month for northern Iraq's Christians to either "convert or be killed".

Christians have lived in the area for two millennia and there were thought to be over one million before the British and American invasion in 2003.

But homes in Mosul were painted with the letter “N” for Nasrani (the Arabic word for Christian) and thousands have now fled to Iraqi Kurdistan following the Islamic State's decree.

Churches, tombs and statues of significance to Christians are now under threat of destruction - last month a video emerged purporting to show the tomb of the prophet Jonah being destroyed by Isis militants in Mosul.

More: Under Isis rule, Christians face a stark choice: convert or die

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