Baba Sheikh failed to reconcile with opponents

Ninewa, September 2021- Ali Sheikh Ilyas, the spiritual leader of the Ezidis, paid his first visit to Shingal since his appointment in November 2020. Media office of Baba Sheikh

By Ammar Aziz

The spiritual leader of the Ezidis succeeded in sorting out several social issues among the Ezidi tribes yet has failed to reconcile with opponents despite his two-week trip to Shingal.

Baba Sheikh Ali Ilyas has arrived in Shingal on September 17th where he met many tribe chieftains and social influential figures to unite the Ezidis and left back to Shekhan on Septmber 30, his media office said.

Sabah Samir, media manager of Baba Sheikh, told KirkukNow Baba Sheikh has met 260 figures, paid tribute to 12 mass graves and sorted out 20 social issues and reconciled many Ezidi tribes in feud.

“The purpose of the visit was to meet the Ezidis of Shingal and unite the Ezidi house and another trip to follow in order to solve some issues that require more time.”

Ali Ilyas was nominated as Baba Sheikh in a ritual on November 18th, 2020 in Lalish holy temple of the Ezidis in the district of Sheikhan, Duhok province.

A number of Ezidi tribes, clerics and community leaders reject the mechanism of appointing Baba Sheikh "for interference by political parties and disregard for their concerns."

Ezidis are an ethno-religious minority over half a million population, mostly residing in Shingal, in northern Iraqi province of Nineveh, and Shekhan districts, . The militants of Daesh extremist group in 2014 attacked their communities accusing them of being heretics, killing thousands of men and taking thousands of women and children as sex slaves, in an atrocity the U.N. described as genocide.

The Ezidi administration institution is made up of the Ezidi Spiritual Council, prince of Ezidis (Mir) who is the head of the spiritual council (leader of the community), Baba-Sheikh (the key religious figure), Minister Sheikh, and head of the seniors. They unanimously form the council and take the decisions.

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Ninewa, September 2021- Baba Sheikh met a group of women of the vulnerable Ezidi community in the war-torn district of Shingal. Media office of Baba Sheikh

The opponents of Baba Sheikh said the trip was a failure as the spiritual leader was not allowed to visit Sharafaddin temple in Shinga.

Haidar Shasho, commander of Ezidkhan forces and leader of the Ezidi Democratic Party, said he is still against the mechanism followed in naming Baba Sheikh.

“His visit was useless because it was not for religious purposes. He should have visited Sharafaddin but we didn’t allow him.”

Sharafaddin temple is the second holiest shrine for the Ezidis following Lalish temple in Sheikhan district of Duhok province.

“A year ago, we declared it that we do not recognize Baba Sheikh and Mir (the prince) as we didn’t agree about the way they were elected and still boycotting them,” Shasho added.

Following appointment of Baba Sheikh, a number of Shingal community leaders Early December have formed a new 'Ezidi Assembly' whose members were elected by the residents of the district, as a council to represent the locals and oversight the local administration.

Ezidism is an old Middle Eastern monotheistic ethnic religion and is based on belief in one God who created the world and entrusted it into the care of seven Holy Beings, known as Angels. The outstanding among these angels is Melek Taus who is the leader and has authority over the world. 

Ezidis speak Kurmanji, one of the two main Kurdish dialects. The majority of Ezidis consider Ezidism both a distinct ethnic and cultural identity and do not identify as Kurdish.

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Ninewa, September 2021- Baba Sheikh paid tribute to a mass graves' victims of civlian Ezidis slaughtered at the hands of the extremist militants of Islamic State ISIS. Media office of Baba Sheikh

Media manager of Baba Sheikh the trip was a success.

“It was for unification of the Ezidis and there was no any political motive behind it,” Amir said. “The warm welcome showed how successful the trips was.”

Shingal, located 120 west of Mosul, on the border of Iraq-Syria, is home to the Ezidi community targeted by ISIS in August 2014 and one of the disputed territories between Baghdad and Erbil. 

Out of 500,000 Ezidis, 100,000 migrated abroad and about 200,000 are still living in the IDP camps in Iraqi Kurdistan Region IKR.

Shingal is home to 82 mass graves and tens of individual graves for Ezidis slaughtered at the hands of the extremist militants of IS.

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