Iraqi Yazidis celebrate restoration of temple destroyed by Daesh

Iraqi Yazidis visit their temple during a ceremony on January 12, 2018, in the town of Bashiqa, some 20 kilometres north east of Mosul. (AFP)
Updated 13 January 2018

Iraqi Yazidis celebrate restoration of temple destroyed by Daesh

BASHIQA, Iraq: Northern Iraq’s Yazidi community that suffered so terribly under Daesh group persecution celebrated on Friday as it inaugurated a restored temple to the sound of traditional drums and flutes.
Overlooked by conical domes of polished stone, hundreds of men in dishdasha robes and women veiled in white gathered at the site which was blown up by the rampaging jihadists in 2014.
The temple at Bashiqa was one of 68 Yazidi temples destroyed by Daesh, officials said — and one of the last of 23 in the region to be restored.
The Yazidi community in Iraq comprised some 550,000 people before it was scattered by the Daesh offensive.
Orthodox Muslims consider the peacock to be a demon figure and refer to Yazidis as devil-worshippers.
Daesh group murdered Yazidis in their thousands in 2014 and abducted thousands of women and teenage girls to make them sex slaves.
According to the religious affairs ministry in Iraqi Kurdistan, some 360,000 Yazidis were displaced by the fighting with 100,000 leaving the country.
Of 6,417 Yazidis reported kidnapped by the jihadists, just 3,207 have been rescued or managed to escape their captors. Half of those still missing are women and girls, the ministry said.
It also said that to date 47 mass graves of Yazidis massacred by Daesh have been discovered.
UN investigators have said the Daesh assault on the Yazidis was a premeditated effort to exterminate an entire community — crimes that amount to genocide.
Friday’s ceremony at the temple in the Bashiqa area some 15 kilometers (nine miles) east of Iraq’s second city Mosul was an act of both revival and defiance.
“This ceremony shows that life has returned despite the terrorism of IS and its bloody attacks,” said 21-year-old Jihan Sinan.
Around her, families posed for pictures as traditional dishes and sweets were handed out and celebrants danced to the tunes of traditional flutes.
Religious leader Ali Rashwakari, 72, urged the international community to help “rebuild the temples and Yazidi regions” of Iraq.


US sanctions Iran minister over Internet censorship

Updated 22 November 2019

US sanctions Iran minister over Internet censorship

  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin: We are sanctioning Iran’s Minister of Information and Communications Technology for restricting Internet access
  • Mnuchin: Iran’s leaders know that a free and open Internet exposes their illegitimacy, so they seek to censor Internet access to quell anti-regime protests

WASHINGTON: The US Treasury slapped punitive sanctions on Iran’s communications minister, Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, Friday after the Tehran regime blocked Internet communications amid violent protests triggered by a petrol price hike.
“We are sanctioning Iran’s Minister of Information and Communications Technology for restricting Internet access, including to popular messaging applications that help tens of millions of Iranians stay connected to each other and the outside world,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a statement.
“Iran’s leaders know that a free and open Internet exposes their illegitimacy, so they seek to censor Internet access to quell anti-regime protests,” Mnuchin said.
The protests erupted across the country on November 15, after the price of petrol was raised by as much as 200 percent.
Officials have confirmed five deaths, while Amnesty International said that more than 100 demonstrators were believed to have been killed after authorities reportedly used live ammunition to quell the protests, which brought attacks on police stations and petrol stations and some looting of shops.
The Treasury said Azari Jahomi is a former official of the Ministry of Intelligence who has advanced Internet censorship since becoming minister two years ago.
He has “also been involved in surveillance against opposition activists,” the Treasury said.
Internet service remained mostly blocked on Friday for a sixth day, with officials and news agencies saying the blackout was gradually being rolled back.
The sanctions would freeze financial assets and property Azari Jahomi has in US jurisdictions and forbid Americans or US businesses, especially banks, from dealing with him.
On Thursday, President Donald Trump accused Iran of blocking the Internet to cover up “death and tragedy” resulting from the protests.
“Iran has become so unstable that the regime has shut down their entire Internet System so that the Great Iranian people cannot talk about the tremendous violence taking place within the country,” Trump tweeted.
“They want ZERO transparency, thinking the world will not find out the death and tragedy that the Iranian Regime is causing!” he wrote.