Unjustly regarded as ‘devil worshippers’ on account of their unusual beliefs, the Yazidi have for centuries been one of the most persecuted minorities of the Middle East. Islamic extremists regard them as infidels, worthy only of being killed. [Didact: First, there is no such thing as an "Islamist extremist"- because there is no such thing as an extreme version of Islam, it's just a bat-s*** crazy political ideology to begin with. Second, according to standard Islamic doctrine, EVERYONE who isn't a Muslim is by definition an infidel.]
They are an ethnic Kurdish people who tend to have fairer complexions than many in the Middle East.
They regard wearing blue as sacrilege, they never eat cabbage or lettuce because it creates wind [Didact: what about broccoli?] and their men often have long beards and wear their hair in plaits – which make them resemble the cartoon characters of ancient Gaul, Asterix and Obelix.
They adhere to a 4,000-year-old faith passed down and adapted through the generations by word of mouth, and composed of elements of several religions.
Their reverence for fire and light derives from the ancient faith called Zoroastrianism, the religion of Persia long before Islam arrived. [Didact: And which Islam practically wiped out. The old-fashioned way, with fire and steel.] They combine such Christian practices as baptism with Jewish or Islamic circumcision. Like Buddhists they believe in perpetual reincarnation.
But it is the central tenet of their religion that has led others to brand them devil worshippers.
They believe in one God who illuminated seven angels with his light. The greatest of the seven is the Peacock Angel, known as Malak Taus, who is dressed in blue (which is why the Yazidi refuse to wear the colour). His other name is Shaytan, Arabic for the devil or Satan.
The Yazidi believe that God left the Earth in the care of the seven angels and told them to obey Adam. The Peacock Angel refused, stating that Adam was created from the soil, and God’s light could never be at the mercy of the soil.
He was cast out for his disobedience, but was quickly reconciled with God who respected his argument – which proved he was, in fact, the most loyal angel of all. This is why the idea that he was akin to Lucifer is so misleading.
Tragically, the Yazidi are also victims of another misunderstanding, over their name. Sunni extremists believe it derives from a deeply unpopular seventh century caliph – or leader – Yazid ibn Muawiya.
In fact, it comes from the Persian word for angel or deity, ‘Ized’. Their name simply means ‘worshippers of God’.
Yet no such theological distinction interests Islamic State fighters in a Middle East where minor divergences between Sunni and Shia Muslims are a matter of life and death, and the region’s 12million Christians are diminishing by the day.
In such a murderous atmosphere, ‘Satan worshippers’ are inevitably the targets of genocidal fanatics.