ISIS has attacked the Yazidi people - a sect of the Kurds - in Iraq. The jihadists have driven the survivors to the slopes of Mt. Sinjar, where the Yazidi are running out of food, water and hope, while the ISIS militants advance to wipe them out in what would be a genocide. The White House has just authorized air drops and airstrikes to save them and the U.S. and France have committed to helping the Kurds.
Who are the Yazidi? Why is ISIS after them, why have Sunni and Shi'a attacked them in the past, and why are they at risk of genocide now?
Yazidi on Mt. Sinjar, Iraqi/Syrian Border - 1920's
Historically, the Yazidis are a religious minority of the Kurds. They are said to have existed since 2000 BCE. Estimates of the number of Yazidis vary between 100,000 and 800,000, the latter being the claim of their website. According to the same site, Yazidi refugees in Germany number 30,000.
Researchers believe that the Yazidi religion has elements from Zoroastrianism, Manicheism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The Yazidis call themselves Dasin, not Yazidi. The term 'Yazidism' comes from the Persian word 'īzed', 'angel'. The name Yazidism is connected to the 6th caliph, Yazid (680-83), who, from Shi'a point of view, is one of world history's most hated men, and is highly disliked by most Sunnis, as well. There is little evidence to show what role, if any, Yazid m played in the founding or development of Yazidism.
The Yazidis don't call themselves Yazidis and they're not attached to the 6th Caliph. That hasn't stopped the Sunni and Shi'a from hating them for the name they don't call themselves, as well as for the rumors that they worship the devil.
What are their true beliefs?