Yazidis celebrate first Festival of Assembly since IS defeat

Iraq's Yazidis celebrate Festival of Assembly for the first time in four years
2 min read
07 October, 2018
Iraq's Yazidi minority have celebrated their main religious festival for the first time since the Islamic State group overran their areas in the country's north.
Yazidis are an ancient religious group who live mainly in Iraq and Syria [AFP]

Yazidis in northern Iraq on Saturday began celebrating the Festival of Assembly, their main religious festival and pilgrimage that lasts for seven days.

This is the first time that the festival, which is called Jamaa in Arabic and Cemaiya in Kurdish, has been held since 2014 when thousand of Yazidis were murdered and kidnapped by the Islamic State group when it overran their areas in northern Iraq.

The Baba Sheikh, the faith's highest religious authority, also attended the festival in Lalesh where the main Yazidi temple is.

Yazidis are an ancient religious group who live mainly in Iraq and Syria and speak Kurdish or Arabic. They revere a high angel called Malek Taws, also known as the Peacock Angel.

Yazidis have often suffered at the hands of Sunni extremists who have tried to portray them as devil worshippers, and the Islamic State group tried to eradicate them.

Thousands of Yazidi women and girls were forced into sexual slavery by IS. While many have escaped or been released, around 3,000 are still missing.

The festival of assembly is the year's main religious event that calls for a pilgrimage to the tomb of Sheikh Adi, the main Yazidi saint that his followers consider the earthly incarnation of the Peacock Angel.