The Yazidis are not among those considered to be “People of the Book,” and so conversion to Islam or death are their only options under Islamic law. There should be a public discussion of this law in light of generally accepted norms of human rights, but there won’t be, because that would be “Islamophobic.”
“Iraq: We’re fleeing because jihadists told us – Convert to Islam or we slaughter you,” by Jonathan Rugman, London Evening Standard, August 14, 2014:
They are camped on classroom floors and amid the concrete shells of unfinished buildings.
They are wholly reliant on the generosity of local people, their lives reduced to no more than the clothes on their backs.
They are the survivors of an ancient religious minority which many in the West had never even heard of until about a week ago.
The plight of Iraq’s Yazidis has triggered air drops and talk of humanitarian intervention by Britain and America.
And although US Special Forces now reckon the numbers still trapped on Mount Sinjar are fewer than previously thought, the stories of those who have escaped are horrific.
Nofa Barakat walked for 15 miles carrying Ayman, her two-month-old son, in searing heat. She explained to me that when her own breast milk ran out she kept him alive by having a mountain goat suckle him instead.
I found her towards the end of her journey, crossing the bridge from Syria into Iraq over the River Habur. Thousands like her escaped by walking down the north face of Sinjar into Syria, escorted by Kurdish fighters. The Syria-Iraq frontier is now such a blurred line on the map that if they keep walking they can cross back into Iraq further north.
“I saw two mothers bury their children,” Nofa told me. “I was not able to produce my own milk because there was no food or water. We came here because the terrorists said, ‘Either you convert to Islam or we slaughter you’.”
Camped in the same school was Ido Suleyman, who told me jihadists had shot dead his wife and two sons as the family fled. He was clinging to Araz, his only child to escape. “We don’t want Iraq and Iraq doesn’t want us,” he said. “We want to go to Europe. We can’t live in a Muslim country any more.”
I was told the father of a girl called Nesma had been beheaded and her mother killed.
Jihadists who have declared an Islamic state regard the Yazidis as devil-worshippers and have shown them even less mercy than Christians who fled earlier.
Suleyman Murat, trapped on Sinjar for 12 days, told me he had seen 33 unburied bodies on the mountain. He and his family survived by fighting for places on an Iraqi military helicopter, one of just three to fly rescue missions after one that was top-heavy with refugees crashed on Tuesday.
Bulldozers are levelling fields to build four new refugee camps for the thousands of Yazidis still expected to migrate further north.
The UN reckons 1.2 million Iraqis have been displaced from their homes since January —but it is the fate of one of Iraq’s least-known minorities which has made the world sit up and take notice.