Beyond ISIS: History and Future of Religious Minorities in Iraq
Beyond ISIS: History and Future of Religious Minorities in Iraq
Edited by Bayar Mustafa Sevdeen and Thomas Schmidinger
Published: 16 April 2019
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“The issue of existential threats against the remaining religious minorities in Iraq became dramatically important in June 2014. The so-called ‘Islamic State’ (ISIS) occupied one-third of the territory of present-day Iraq and advanced towards the Kurdistan region through the province of Mosul, the base of most religious minorities. The ISIS undertook systematic ethno-religious cleansing of this borderland between the Kurdistan region and the central government in Baghdad. The area was mainly populated by Christians and Yazidis and had been the last resort for most religious minorities in the country. The United States government and United Nations agencies reported the murders of about 9,000 people, the abduction of 6800 (one-third of them still missing in January 2019), and about 400,000 displaced in the Kurdistan region. Prior to 2005, about 700,000 Yezidis lived in Iraq; after August 2014, less than 500,000 Yezidis remained. In January 2019, most still live in refugee camps. Since 2005, the number of Christians has decreased from an estimated 1.4 million to less than 300,000 in 2017, mostly in refugee camps in the provinces of Kurdistan. Besides the Christians, also Shabak and Kaka’i, also called Yarsan or Ahl-e Haqq, were displaced by the occupation of the Nineveh Plains by the ISIS.”
“I can confidently recommend this up-to-date, fascinating collection of articles authored mainly by new Kurdish and European scholars on Iraqi Kurdistan’s post-ISIS, religious minorities including Christians, Jews, Yazidis, Shabaks, Kakais, Bahais, and Zoroastrians, as well as labor migrant Hindus and Buddhists, among others.”
- Michael M. Gunter, Professor of Political Sciences, Tennessee Technological University, United States.
“We have to pay attention to the situation of the people in Iraq. Iraq heavily suffered under the aggression of the so-called Islamic state (ISIS) and the war with these jihadi terrorists. In this very area, the worn-out and often misused term ‘free world’ suddenly gains a new elementary meaning, because it is the place where our freedom is vindicated. The henchmen of the ISIS set back Mosul by centuries. As if there had never been a declaration of human rights, a Hague convention, or an abolition of slavery. A group made up of ideologically deluded extremists gone mad disregards every human accomplishment in terms of civilisation.”
- Josef Weidenholzer, Member of the European Parliament and Vice president of the S&D group in the European Parliament
- PREFACE by Josef Weidenholzer
- INTRODUCTION by Bayar Mustafa Sevdeeen and Thomas Schmidinger
- CHAPTER 1: Minorities in Iraq: National Legal Framework, Political Participation, and the Future of Citizenship Given the Current Changes by Saad Salloum
- CHAPTER 2: The Jews of Iraq by Birgit Ammann
- CHAPTER 3: The Lost Readers of the Scripture: Some notes on the Karaite community of Hīt by Thomas Schmidinger
- CHAPTER 4: John the Baptist’s Water: Extinction of a Millennial Culture by Saad Salloum
- CHAPTER 5: The Gurdwara of Baghdad and the Forgotten History of Sikhs in Iraq by Areshpreet Wedech
- CHAPTER 6: Christians in Iraq by Thomas Schmidinger
- CHAPTER 7: Fleeing ISIS: Aramaic-speaking Christians in the Niniveh Plains after ISIS by Archimandrite Emanuel Youkhana
- CHAPTER 8: Armenians of Iraq by Seda D. Ohanian
- CHAPTER 9: The Yazidis: Religion, Society and Resentments by Thomas Schmidinger
- CHAPTER 10: The Yazidi Quest for Protection in Sinjar in the Post-ISIS Iraq by Arzu Yılmaz and Bayar Mustafa Sevdeeen
- CHAPTER 11: Kakai Internal Displacement in Kirkuk and the Fear of Violence from the So-called Islamic State in Iraq (ISIS) by Seyedehbehnaz Hosseini
- CHAPTER 12: The Shabak: Between secular nationalisms and sectarian violence by Michiel Leezenberg
- CHAPTER 13: The Haqqa Movement: from Heterodox Sufism, to Socio-Political Struggle and Back by Lana Askari
- CHAPTER 14: Bahaism and the Bahai Community in Iraq: A Fateful Past and Fragile Present by Maria Six-Hohenbalken
- CHAPTER 15: Kurdish Zoroastrians: An Emerging Minority in Iraq by Matthew Travis Barber
- CHAPTER 16: Migrant Religions in Iraq: Hindus and Buddhists by Ghazwan Yousif Baho
Birgit Ammann is Professor of Political Science at the University of Applied Sciences Potsdam and Research associate at the Berlin Society for the Advancement of Kurdish Studies – European Center for Kurdish Studies.
Lana Askari has a PhD in Social Anthropology with Visual Media from the Department of Anthropology at the University of Manchester. She is also a movie director. Her background from a Haqqa family gave her close access to research material about the Haqqa movement.
Ghazwan Youssef Baho is a Chaldean priest and a professor at Babel College for Philosophy & Theology in Ain Kawa (Erbil, Iraq). His research on the Christian religion in Kurdistan, published recently in the book entitled Religions in Kurdistan, Misbar Publishing House, Dubai 2018.
Matthew Travis Barber is a PhD student in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago, studying Islamic thought and modern Middle Eastern history. He has worked extensively with minorities in Iraq, in particular with the Yazidis as a proponent of the humanitarian and advocacy response to the Yazidi Genocide. He served for one year as the first executive director in Iraq of Yazda, a multi-national Yazidi organization, developing humanitarian, advocacy, and social outreach programs.
Seyedehbehnaz Hosseini completed her doctoral research in the Department of Oriental Studies at the University of Vienna where she focused on migration and minorities in Iran and Iraq especially Yārsāani. As a research fellow with the Department of Sociology, University of Alberta, Canada, she currently researches Iraqi minorities and forced migration of women.
Seda D. Ohanian was born in Basra, Iraq. She is a researcher at the Armenia’s National Academy of Sciences, Division of Armenology and Social Sciences at the Institute of History. She has published extensively on the Armenians in Iraq.
Saad Salloum is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Mustansiriya and an expert on religious diversity in Iraq. He serves as the general coordinator of the MASARAT foundation for Cultural and Media development and helped found the Iraqi Council for Interfaith Dialogue. In 2018, he was awarded the Stefanus international prize, in Oslo and the Kamil Shiaa’s prize for Enlightenment in Baghdad and the Chaldean Patriarchate Award.
Thomas Schmidinger is Lecturer for Political Science at the University of Vienna and for Social Work at the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria. He is secretary general of the Austrian Association for Kurdish Studies and Co-editor of the Vienna Kurdish Studies Yearbook. His recent books are about Rojava, Afrin and the Genocide against the Yazidis in Sinjar. Foreign Policy advisor on Kurdish issues, minority questions, Middle East for S&D Vice President Josef Weidenholzer in the EU parliament.
Bayar Mustafa Sevdeen is Assistant Professor and researcher at the College of international Studies at the American University of Kurdistan (AUK), he is also AHDA fellow at the Institute of the Study of Human Rights at Columbia University. He served as a diplomat in the Turkey Division at the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 2010 to 2013. Currently, he is a principal investigator in ongoing projects focusing Yazidi and other religious groups in the Middle East, in cooperation with LSC and UCF. He is also working on his latest book entitled Contemporary Politics of Kurds and Kurdistan.
Maria Six-Hohenbalken is a social anthropologist and researcher at the Austrian Academy of Science. She is president of the Austrian Association for Kurdish Studies and co-editor of the Vienna Kurdish Studies Yearbook.
Michiel Leezenberg is associate professor at the University of Amsterdam in the Department of Philosophy. He coordinates the Research Masters in Philosophy and the B.A. honours program in philosophy, and participates in the M.A. program Islam in the Modern World. Leezenberg is also a well-known specialist on Kurdish Studies and particularly the Shabak.
Areshpreet Wedech was born in 1993 in Dasuya (India). At the University of Vienna, Austria, she obtained a BA in German Philology and Languages and Cultures of South Asian and Tibet. Subsequently, she completed an MA in Culture and Society of Modern South Asia at the University of Vienna, where her master thesis focussed on the first translation of the holy scripture of the Sikhs. Driven by an interest in the Sikh diaspora, she has started at the University of Vienna doctoral studies on the traditions of the Sikh community in Austria.
Arzu Yilmaz was Chair of Department of International Relations at American University of Kurdistan based in Duhok and IPC-Mercator Fellow at the German think tank SWP. She obtained her PhD in International Relations from Ankara University in Turkey, where she wrote her dissertation on Kurdish refugees and the political identity of the refugee agent.
Archimandrite Emanuel Youkhana is a priest (Archimandrite) of the Assyrian Church of the East and president of CAPNI (Christian Aid Program Northern Iraq) based in Duhok.
Publisher: Transnational Press London
Published: 16 Apr. 2019
Interior Ink: Black & white
Weight (approx.): 0.40 kg
Dimensions (approx.): 15cm wide x 23cm tall
Black and White