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Pari Ibrahim: The camp managers refused to eat the bread, since they were made by the hands of Yazidis.

By Ezidi 24

Yazidi activist and founder and executive director of Free Yezidi foundation Ms. Pari Ibrahim gave a speech at workshop on Christian Persecution by Embassy of Hungary Washington, D.C., 18 July 2019. Pari presented some examples of discrimination and mistreatment that make life difficult for religious minorities. She gave
three brief examples from her own experience to demonstrate this.

” In an IDP community in the Duhok area, an international NGO wished to create a bakery to serve the IDP population, which was mostly Yazidi. They hired managers from the city, and those managers were Muslim. The workers were Yazidis. At the end of the day, the managers refused to eat the products, since they were made by the hands of Yazidis. Imagine the bad impact of a development project done in such a way! Every Yazidi has had some version of this experience in a personal way – being told that food of Yazidis or hands of Yazidis are unclean.” Said Pari Ibrahim in her speech.

She also added that”One of our project funders was taking a taxi to FYF women’s center, and the taxi driver warned her against making contact with Yazidis for her own health and safety. She arrived shocked and saddened to hear that Yazidis are referred to in such an insulting way.”

Pari brought an example from her own life…as a teenager in the Netherlands, in Amsterdam, Pari had a friend who is Kurdish Muslim, and both grew up together. One day, Pari found out that her friends were challenging her for spending time with me. “Don’t go to their house. Don’t eat their food,” she was told. “Don’t you know that they are devil-worshippers?” If these attitudes exist in the Netherlands, where there are stronger forces of integration and non-discrimination, imagine how much more prevalent and damaging in the Middle East! Said Pari

Pari said” these examples may seem minor but the truth is that there would never have been ISIS atrocities against religious minorities unless the stereotypes, discrimination, and hatred were already tolerated and promoted. If we want to see Yazidis and Christians live and succeed in a place like Iraq, we must understand that there were already multi-faceted, serious problems facing our communities before ISIS. The military defeat of ISIS does not erase these problems – not even close”

In Middle East in general religious minorities struggle to recover from the horrors of ISIS atrocities, minority groups must be aware of the pre-conditions that led to our persecution. Deep-seated problems must be addressed, urgently, to make sure that people will not keep repeating the same experiences of persecution and discrimination.

Pari Ibrahim concluded her speech and on behalf of the Free Yezidi Foundation, gave the following three steps would be most important to improve the lives of religious minorities in Iraq:

-Diverse religious education. Mandatory curriculum changes must be adopted throughout basic and secondary school, throughout Iraq, to ensure that religious education is diverse and acceptable to religious leaders of all Iraq’s minority religion.

Pari Ibrahim

-Representation. In Baghdad and Erbil, it is essential that minority members of
parliament and functional, empowered government actors have voices and can represent their constituencies without fear of reprisal. But further than that, there must be genuine representation at all levels, including governorate, district, and sub-district levels.

-Opportunity. For Yazidis in particular, one of the greatest outcomes of isolation and exclusion has been a lack of education and employment opportunities. Traditionally, many Yazidis have subsisted and struggled to survive as farmers. Even before ISIS, this was a very challenging and hard life. I absolutely do not believe that returning to pre-ISIS conditions will help Yazidis. I would rather that every single Yazidi, whether in an IDP camp or in villages in and around Sinjar, has opportunity for basic education and development of skills for better employment. I think it is the single most important thing.Subsistence agriculture will not build our future in the 21st century. We need better access to schooling, universities, job trainings, and job opportunities. So we urge all aid agencies and donors to focus on this, and we also push Iraqi authorities to share the opportunities and the wealth with religious minorities. We do not want any favors or handouts, but we
religious minorities want and demand equal chances.

The Free Yezidi Foundation is a politically independent non-profit organisation designed to assist Yazidis in need. It was founded shortly after terrorists attempted to eradicate the Yazidi people in August 2014 in Iraq. The Free Yezidi Foundation seeks to implement projects to protect and support the most vulnerable members of the Yazidi community. It also tries to create international awareness of the plight of the Yazidis and how to ethically address their concerns.

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