Yazidis (also called Ezidis, Yezidis ; in Kurdish: Ezîdî) are followers of a syncretic belief system in which Christian, Islamic, Zoroastrian, Mithraist and pagan elements can be found. Yazidism is a branch of Yazdanism (derived from the Kurdish word yezdân meaning ‘god’ or ‘angel’). The other branch of Yezdanism is Yarsanism.

The Yezidis prefer to call themselves ‘Ezidi’ (in Kurdish Ezda or Azda is the name of God, ‘Ezidi’ stands for ‘People of God’).

Because of their faith and ethnicity, Yezidis have been persecuted by their Arab-Muslim neighbours.[1]


Yezidism is a Kurdish folk religion.[2] Yazidis believe in one god Yezdan (Ezid), the creator of the world, and in the Peacock Angel Melek Taus, the chief of the seven archangels who rule the world. Ezidis have two holy books written in Kurdish: Kitabe Cilve (Book of Inspiration) and Meshef Resh (Black Book). Yezidis are a close community and they have a caste system. Moreover, there is endogamy. You can born as a Yezidi, you can not become it. They do not consider themselves Muslims and their religion a part of Islam. Baptism and belief in reincarnation have been taken respectively from Christianity and Hinduism.


Yezidis have been victims of persecution by hostile neighbors or regimes for centuries. In the Ottoman period, Yezidis emigrated en masse to the Caucasus and subsequently played an important role in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. Their situation there deteriorated after the fall of the Soviet Union. Repression for emigration also ensued in Turkish occupied Kurdistan: Bakuri Yezidis mainly migrated to Germany.

In Iraq, Yezidis are struggling the hostility from Muslim militants. They were targeted in 2007 by a number of serious attacks. As a reason, the stoning of Du’a Khalil Aswad was cited. In April 2007, a 17-year-old Yezidi girl Du’a Khalil Aswad was stoned to death in her village because she had a relationship with a Sunni boy and rumors went that she wanted to become a Muslim. On April 23, 2007, al-Qaeda militants killed 23 Yazidis in Mosul. On August 14, 2007, one of the most serious attacks in the Iraqi (civilian) war took place in the town of Qahataniya near Shingal. In a suicide attack directed against the Yezidis, 796 people were killed and more than 1,500 were injured. The attack was announced a week before by Islamic militants associated with al-Qaeda because they see Yazidis anti-Islamic. Once again the stoning of Du’a Khalil Aswad was cited as a reason.

During the Syrian and Iraqi civil wars, Yezidis were one of the populations that were persecuted and murdered by the islamist groups. In October 2012, FSA (Free Syrian Army) attacked Qastel Jindo, a Yezidi village near Azaz, Syria and massacred the villagers.[3] In August 2013, FSA (Free Syrian Army) and al-Qaeda linked Ahrar al Sham militants stormed Asadiya village in Serekaniye,Rojava. They executed Yazidi civilians there.[4] In May 2014, ISIS killed 40 civilians (mostly Ezidis) in an attack on Tel Aliya village in the same region.[5] On 3th August 2014,  Yazidis suffered one of the most horrible genocides in history. Islamic State and Saddam-era Arab settlers killed ca. 10.000 Yazidi Kurds in Sinjar in several days.[6] Many people got stuck on the Sinjar mountain, where many of them died of hunger, thirst and lack of medicine. Kurdish YPG fighters from Rojava opened a safe corridor and helped the Yezidis. In the second week of August Americans, Peshmerga and Rojava Kurds were able to supply more help to the trapped. The fate of the Yazidis who fell into the hands of ISIS is convert or die; they often find death and women are traded as slaves.[6]


Today an estimated 75,000 Yezidis live in Western Europe (especially Germany and Sweden), 150,000 in the Caucasus and 500,000 in Iraqi Kurdistan. The total size of the number of followers of Yazidism is estimated at around 1 million people.


The language of Yezidis is Kurdish, specifically Kurmanji dialect that is spoken mainly in Northern Kurdistan. Plus, nearly all Yezidis can speak a second language, for instance in Iraq Arabic, in ex-USSR states Russian and in Germany German.


  • The Eighth Day: A Thriller by John F. Case, 2002
  • Come, Tell Me How You Live by Agatha Christie-Mallowan, 1946
  • Die Schwester im Jenseits (The Sister in the Hereafter) by Andree Hesse
  • Karıncanın Su İçtiği (Ant Drinking Water) by Yaşar Kemal, 2002
  • Fırat Suyu Kan Akıyor Baksana (Look, the Euphrates is Flowing with Blood) by Yaşar Kemal, 1997
  • The Sanctuary by Raymond Khoury, 2007
  • Genesis Secret by Tom Knox, 2009
  • Tod in Breslau (Death in Breslau) by Marek Krajewski, 1999
  • Timm Thaler oder Das verkaufte Lachen (Timm Thaler, or the Traded Laughter) by James Krüss, 1962
  • The Horror at Red Hook by H. P. Lovecraft, 1925
  • Durch die Wüste (Across the Desert) by Karl May, 1895
  • Durchs wilde Kurdistan (Across Wild Kurdistan) by Karl May, 1892
  • Arabesk by Barbara Nadel, 2001


  1. CNN
  2. Justice.gov (Minority Rights Group International)
  3. Maisel, 2016, Page 151
  4. UN Human Rights
  5. Ezidi Press
  6. The Independent