Iraq News

Ninawa shares Yazidis' joy at shrine reopening

By Alaa Hussain in Baghdad


Yazidis and well-wishers of other faiths celebrate the reopening of the Sheikh Babek shrine, which was rebuilt following its destruction by the 'Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant'. [Azad Darwish/Diyaruna]

Amid joyful ululations and the beat of drums, dozens of Yazidis raised the Haleel ornament and affixed it atop the highest dome of the Sheikh Babek shrine in Ninawa province's Bashiqa district.

The April 12th ceremony marked the completion of the reconstruction of the shrine, demolished two years ago by the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL).

The shrine, rebuilt to its previous design and featuring a conical dome in the traditional style of Yazidi shrines, was reconstructed with funding from the people of the city and backing from Yazidi clerics and affluent families.

Iraqis of all sects and ethnicities, including Christians and Muslims, shared in the joy of the shrine’s reopening.

"The Yazidis achieved victory against terrorism when they returned to their cities and rebuilt their shrines with their own hands," said Iraqi MP Haji Kendor, who represents the Yazidi community.

"Although Yazidis are known for being a peaceful people in their homeland and country, they will never bow to the will of terrorists, whoever they are and whatever their orientation," he said.

Centuries of co-existence

The sharing of Christians and Muslims in the Yazidis' joy in reopening the Sheikh Babek shrine proves once again the spirit of co-existence that has prevailed in Bashiqa since ancient times, Bashiqa district director Thanoun Younis Yousef told Diyaruna.

"[Bashiqa] is typical of Iraq as a whole in terms of its diverse ethnic and religious components, all of whom have lived in the district in harmony and peace with no incidents of violence occurring between them," he said.

This peaceful co-existence continued until ISIL arrived in 2014, he said.

Although ISIL desecrated the city, displaced its Christian and Yazidi residents and violated the honour of its women, after its liberation the city’s residents are once again united and nothing can come between them, Yousef said.

"Five months ago, Christians and Yazidis joined in the celebration of the birth of the Prophet Mohammed, then Muslims and Yazidis joined their Christian brethren in a mass held in the Bahzani church, and now they are all participating in the reopening of the Sheikh Babek shrine," he said.

"The era of ISIL rule has not left any grudges between the various religious and ethnic components in the city," he said, adding that "there will be no grudges between them in the future because they are all ready for peaceful co-existence".

Occasions like the reopening of the Sheikh Babek shrine can be used to bring people together and consolidate social cohesion in the province, Ninawa governor Nofal Hammadi told Diyaruna.

Speaking on the sidelines of a Christian mass held in Bartella, near Bashiqa, Hammadi said that all religions should embrace each other to help Ninawa preserve its social fabric, which has long distinguished it from other provinces.

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