Friday, August 24, 2007

The Yezidi

"The Yezidi of Celle are one of the largest groups of their sect outside the homeland of Kurdish Iraq. There may be 7,000 in this small town. Yezidi across the world number between 400,000 and 800,000."
So wrote Sean Thomas in the Sunday Telegraph earlier this week. The Yezidi are an interesting "cult" that have been accused of -- and persecuted for -- devil worship. Some speculate that they worship "The Devil" (something that holds meaning only for monotheists), under the name Melek Taus. This Melek Taus is hard to pin down as either good or evil, according to Uta Tolle, a German scholar of Yezidism: "He is both [good and evil]. Like fire. Flames can cook but they can also burn. The world is good and bad." Setting aside the sensationalist nature of the title, Sean Thomas' The Devil Worshippers of Iraq is an interesting read.
THE DEVIL WORSHIPPERS OF IRAQ by Sean Thomas, Sunday Telegraph Last Updated: 4:01am BST 20/08/2007 "Ours is the oldest religion in the world. Older than Islam; older than Christianity."

I'm in a community hall, on the outskirts of Celle, a north German town. On the walls are pictures of dark blue peacocks. Sitting at various tables around the room are dozens of Devil worshippers. At least, that's what some people call them. Though we don't know it yet, right now several suicide bombs are going off near Mosul in Iraq, killing maybe 400. The victims belong to the same faith as those gathered here today. They are Yezidi. And I'm here to unearth the reality of their fascinating religion. Why do they have such troubled relations with outsiders? Do they really worship the Devil?

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