Children born to IS fathers not considered Yazidi: Council

AFP
Baghdad, Iraq Published: Apr 28, 2019, 11:22 PM(IST)

File photo. Photograph:( Reuters )

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The Yazidi community once numbered around 500,000 members in the mountainous Sinjar region of northwest Iraq, but it was ravaged by IS's 2014 sweep into the area. 

Children born to Yazidi women as a result of rape by Islamic State group fighters will not be permitted to join the community in northern Iraq, the faith's Supreme Spiritual Council said. 

The Yazidi community once numbered around 500,000 members in the mountainous Sinjar region of northwest Iraq, but it was ravaged by IS's 2014 sweep into the area. 

Jihadists killed Yazidi men, forced boys to join their ranks as fighters and abducted and imprisoned thousands of Yazidi women as sex slaves. 

The children born of those rapes have been the subject of fierce debate in the insular community, which only recognises children as Yazidis if both their parents hail from the sect.

Last week, the head of the Supreme Spiritual Council Hazem Tahsin Said issued what appeared to be a landmark shift, publishing an order "accepting all survivors (of IS crimes) and considering what they went through to have been against their will".

The decision was hailed as "historic" by Yazidi activists, who understood it to mean that children born of rape would now be allowed to live among their Yazidi relatives. 

But late Saturday, the Council published a clarification that the decision "does not include children born of rape, but refers to children born of two Yazidi parents". 

The Yazidi community had long considered any women marrying outside the sect to no longer be Yazidi, initially including those assaulted by IS in 2014.

But Yazidi spiritual leader Baba Sheikh issued a decision the following year welcoming those women back home, without resolving the fate of their children.

Many Yazidi women who were kidnapped by IS have escaped in recent years, and dozens more fled to safety in the last few months as IS's "caliphate" crumbled in Syria. 

Those who had children with IS fighters faced a difficult choice: either remain ex-communicated from their Yazidi relatives, or leave the children behind. 

Dozens who returned to the Yazidi heartland of Sinjar in northwest Iraq in recent months chose the latter. 

In Iraq, children inherit the religious sect and nationality of their father, so those born to Sunni Muslim men would have the same religion.

Those born to suspected IS fighters who are either missing or dead are at risk of remaining stateless because of lack of proof of their father's identity. 

Earlier this month, Iraqi President Barham Saleh proposed a bill to parliament that would provide reparations for Yazidi female survivors of IS crimes and establish a court to clarify "civil status" issues. 

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