Yezidis of Jabal.jpg
Yazidis on the mountain of Sinjar, Iraqi–Syrian border, 1920s
Total population
Regions with significant populations
Sinjar, Nineveh Plains
Listed by countries
 Iraq500,000 (2018 estimate)[3]
 Germany200,000 (2019 estimate)[4][5]
 Russia40,586 (2010 census)[8]
 Belgium35,000 (2018 estimate)[9]
 Armenia35,272 (2011 census)[10]
 Georgia12,174 (2014 census)[11]
 France10,000 (2018 estimate)[12][13]
 Sweden6,000 (2018 estimate)[14]
 Turkey5,000 (2010 estimate)[15][16]
 Canada1,200 (2018 estimate)[17]
Yazidism (called Sharfadin by Yazidis) (majority)[18]
Armenian Apostolic Church and Evangelicalism (minority)[19]
Kurmanji (Northern Kurdish), Arabic[20] and Armenian[21]
Yazidism (Sharfadin)
MirHazim Tahsin Said
Baba SheikhKhurto Hajji Ismail
HeadquartersAin Sifni
Other name(s)Êzîdî

Yazidis (also written as Yezidis) (z/ (About this soundlisten)[22] are a mostly Kurmanji-speaking[20] ethnoreligious group,[18] or an ethnic Kurdish minority[20] indigenous to Iraq, Syria and Turkey who are strictly endogamous.[23] A sizeable part of the autochthonous Yazidi population of Turkey fled the country for present-day Armenia and Georgia starting from the late 19th century.[24] There are additional communities in Russia and Germany due to recent migration.[25]

Some of them identify themselves as ethnic Kurds while others identify as an ethno-religious group.[18][26] According to Armenian anthropologist Levon Abrahamian, Yazidis generally believe that Muslim Kurds betrayed Yazidism by converting to Islam, while Yazidis remained faithful to the religion of their ancestors.[27] In Iraq and Armenia, the Yazidis are recognized as an ethnic group.[28][29] In Iraqi Kurdistan the Yazidis are considered ethnic Kurds and the autonomous region is highly critical of any move to recognize Yazidis as an ethnic group. The sole Yazidi parliamentarian in the Iraqi Parliament Vian Dakhil also stated her opposition to any move separating Yazidis from Kurds.[30] Yazidis are also regarded as ethnic Kurds in Georgia.[31]

Historically, there have been Kurdish persecutions against Yazidis with the goal of converting Yazidis to Islam.[32] The Yazidis were nearly wiped out by these massacres.[33][34] Some Yazidi tribes converted to Islam and embraced the Kurdish identity.[35]

Some Yazidis use the glossonym Ezdiki for Kurmanji. According to these Yazidis, they are not the ones who speak the language of the Kurds but vice-versa.[36] In Armenia, the language of the Yazidis (Ezdiki or Yazidi) is recognized as a national minority language.[37][38] However, the attempts to separate from Ezdiki from Kurmanji are not based on scientific evidence.[39]

Their religion, Yazidism, is also called Sharfadin by Yazidis.[18] It is a monotheistic religion and has elements of Ancient Mesopotamian religions[40] and some similarities with Abrahamic religions such as Christianity, Judaism and Islam.[25][41] Yazidis who marry non-Yazidis are automatically considered to have converted to the religion of their spouse and therefore are not permitted to call themselves Yazidis.[24][42] The Yazidis in Iraq live primarily in Nineveh Governorate, part of the disputed territories of northern Iraq.[43][44]

In August 2014, the Yazidis became victims of a genocide by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in its campaign to rid Iraq and its neighbouring countries of non-Islamic influences.[45]


Yazidi leaders and Chaldean clergymen meeting in Mesopotamia, 19th century

Historically, the Yazidis lived primarily in communities located in present-day Iraq, Turkey, and Syria and also had significant numbers in Armenia and Georgia. However, events since the end of the 20th century have resulted in considerable demographic shift in these areas as well as mass emigration.[25] As a result, population estimates are unclear in many regions, and estimates of the size of the total population vary.[20]


The majority of the Yazidi population lives in Iraq, where they make up an important minority community.[20] Estimates of the size of these communities vary significantly, between 70,000 and 500,000. They are particularly concentrated in northern Iraq in Nineveh Governorate. The two biggest communities are in Shekhan, northeast of Mosul and in Sinjar, at the Syrian border 80 kilometres (50 mi) west of Mosul. In Shekhan is the shrine of Sheikh Adi ibn Musafir at Lalish. In the early 1900s most of the settled population of the Western Desert were Yazidi.[46] During the 20th century, the Shekhan community struggled for dominance with the more conservative Sinjar community.[20] The demographic profile has probably changed considerably since the beginning of the Iraq War in 2003 and the fall of Saddam Hussein's government.[20]

Yazidi new year celebrations in Lalish, 18 April 2017
Two Yazidi men at the new year celebrations in Lalish, 18 April 2017

According to the Human Rights Watch, Yazidis were under the Arabisation process of Saddam Hussein between 1970 and 2003. In 2009, some Yazidis who had previously lived under the Arabisation process of Saddam Hussein complained about the political tactics of the Kurdistan Regional Government that were intended to make Yazidis identify themselves as Kurds.[44] A report from Human Rights Watch (HRW), in 2009, declares that to incorporate disputed territories in northern Iraq—particularly the Nineveh province—into the Kurdish region, the KDP authorities had used KRG's political and economical resources to make Yazidis identify themselves as Kurds. The HRW report also criticises heavy-handed tactics."[44]


Yazidis in Syria live primarily in two communities, one in the Al-Jazira area and the other in the Kurd-Dagh.[20] Population numbers for the Syrian Yazidi community are unclear. In 1963, the community was estimated at about 10,000, according to the national census, but numbers for 1987 were unavailable.[47] There may be between about 12,000 and 15,000 Yazidis in Syria today,[20][48] though more than half of the community may have emigrated from Syria since the 1980s. Estimates are further complicated by the arrival of as many as 50,000 Yazidi refugees from Iraq during the Iraq War.

Yazidi men


The Yazidi population in Georgia has been dwindling since the 1990s, mostly due to economic migration to Russia and the West. According to a census carried out in 1989, there were over 30,000 Yazidis in Georgia; according to the 2002 census, however, only around 18,000 Yazidis remained in Georgia. However, by other estimates, the community fell from around 30,000 people to fewer than 5,000 during the 1990s. Today they number as little 6,000 by some estimates, including recent refugees from Sinjar in Iraq, who fled to Georgia following persecution by ISIL.[49] On 16 June 2015, Yazidis celebrated the opening of a temple and a cultural centre named after Sultan Ezid in Varketili, a suburb of Tbilisi. This is the third such temple in the world after those in Iraqi Kurdistan and Armenia.[49]


According to the 2011 census, there are 35,272 Yazidis in Armenia, making them Armenia's largest ethnic minority group.[50] Ten years earlier, in the 2001 census, 40,620 Yazidis were registered in Armenia.[51] They have a significant presence in the Armavir province of Armenia. Media have estimated the number of Yazidis in Armenia to be between 30,000 and 50,000. Most of them are the descendants of refugees who fled to Armenia in order to escape the persecution that they had previously suffered during Ottoman rule, including a wave of persecution which occurred during the Armenian Genocide, when many Armenians found refuge in Yazidi villages.[52]

The Ziarat temple in Aknalich, Armenia

There is a Yazidi temple called Ziarat in the village of Aknalich in the region of Armavir. Construction on a new Yazidi temple in Aknalich, called "Quba Mere Diwan," is underway. The temple is slated to become the largest Yazidi temple in the world and is privately funded by Mirza Sloian, a Yazidi businessman based in Moscow who is originally from the Armavir region.[53]


Yazidi men in Mardin, Turkey, late 19th century

The Yazidi community of Turkey declined precipitously during the 20th century. Most of them have immigrated to Europe, particularly Germany; those who remain reside primarily in their former heartland of Tur Abdin.[20]

Western Europe

This mass emigration has resulted in the establishment of large Yazidi diaspora communities abroad. The most significant of these is in Germany, which now has a Yazidi community of more than 200,000[4][5] living primarily in Hannover, Bielefeld, Celle, Bremen, Bad Oeynhausen, Pforzheim and Oldenburg.[54] Most are from Turkey and, more recently, Iraq and live in the western states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony.[20] Since 2008, Sweden has seen sizeable growth in its Yazidi emigrant community, which had grown to around 4,000 by 2010, and a smaller community exists in the Netherlands.[20] Other Yazidi diaspora groups live in Belgium, Denmark, France, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and Australia; these have a total population of probably less than 5,000.[20]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Jesiede
Alemannisch: Jesiden
العربية: يزيدية
ܐܪܡܝܐ: ܐܝܙܝܕܝܐ
অসমীয়া: য়াজিদি
azərbaycanca: Yezidilər
تۆرکجه: یزیدلیلر
বাংলা: ইয়াজিদি
беларуская: Езіды
български: Езиди
Чӑвашла: Езидсем
čeština: Jezídové
Deutsch: Jesiden
eesti: Jeziidid
Ελληνικά: Γιαζίντι
español: Yazidíes
Esperanto: Jezidoj
euskara: Yezidi
فارسی: ایزیدیان
français: Yézidis
Gaeilge: Iasaídigh
galego: Pobo iézidi
گیلکی: ایزدی‌ئن
한국어: 야지디
հայերեն: Եզդիներ
हिन्दी: यज़ीदी
hrvatski: Jezidi
Bahasa Indonesia: Yazidi
íslenska: Jasídar
עברית: יזידים
ქართული: იეზიდები
kurdî: Êzdîtî
latviešu: Jazīdi
lietuvių: Jazidai
Lingua Franca Nova: Eziditis
magyar: Jeziditák
മലയാളം: യസീദി
მარგალური: იეზიდეფი
مصرى: يزيديين
مازِرونی: ایزدیون
Bahasa Melayu: Yazidi
Nederlands: Jezidi's
нохчийн: Езидаш
occitan: Yezidis
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਯਜ਼ੀਦੀ
português: Yazidi
română: Yazidiți
русский: Езиды
Scots: Yazidis
Simple English: Yazidi
slovenčina: Jazídíja
Soomaaliga: Yazidi (yasiidi)
کوردی: ئێزیدی
српски / srpski: Језиди
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Jazidi
Basa Sunda: Yazidi
suomi: Jesidit
svenska: Yazidier
Türkçe: Yezîdîler
українська: Єзиди
اردو: یزیدی
Tiếng Việt: Người Yazidi
文言: 雅茲迪
粵語: 雅茲迪人
Zazaki: Yezıdi
中文: 雅兹迪