Longtime spiritual leader of the Yazidis dies at age 86

Published 28.01.2019 16:14
Updated 28.01.2019 16:15

Mir Tahsin Said, the longtime spiritual leader of the Yazidi people, died Monday at the age of 86 in Germany.

The Yazidi emir died at the KRH Siloah hospital in Hanover, where he had been receiving treatment for an illness "for a long time," according to a statement by Khairi Buzani, head of the Yazidi affairs in the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG)'s Ministry of Endowments in northern Iraq.

Born in 1933 in Iraq's northwest Sheikhan district, he was appointed head of the Yazidis at age 11 after the death of his father, who was the previous emir.

His son told local media that Mir Tahsin would be buried in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq.

KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani sent condolences to Mir Tahsin's family on Monday.

Barzani said the emir "always worked to strengthen the spirit of coexistence among different communities" across Iraq.

Mir Tahsin is survived by eight sons and three daughters.

The Yazidi people are a religious group, most of whom live in northern Iraq, while smaller groups live in Turkey, Syria, Iran, Georgia and Armenia.

The Yazidi faith emerged in Iran more than 4,000 years ago and is rooted in Zoroastrianism, over time integrating elements of Islam and Christianity.

Of the world's 1.5 million Yazidis, around 550,000 were living in the remote corners of northern Iraq where Mir Tahsin was born, and comprised the largest community before 2014.

In 2014, Daesh terror group rampaged across northern Iraq and seized the Yazidi bastion of Sinjar, near the border with Syria.

Daesh fighters slaughtered thousands of Yazidi men and boys, then abducted women and girls to be abused as "sex slaves."

The brutal assault pushed around 360,000 Yazidis to flee to other parts of Iraq, including the Kurdish region, in addition to another 100,000 who left the country altogether. Germany is home to the biggest Yazidi community abroad.

The United Nations has said Daesh's actions could amount to genocide, and is investigating the terrorist group's atrocities across Iraq.

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