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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Fabulous Insult

In today's paper there's a story about a minority religious (i.e. non-Muslim) sect in northern Iraq who are being targeted and murdered by Al Qaeda. (I'd feel sorry for them, were it not for their oh-so-predictable prediliction for stoning women, but I digress).

Not the most likely source, you'd think, for a funny.

And yet.

It seems that this "misunderstood" group are derided by Muslim Iraqis as, "peacock-loving, lettuce-dodging devil worshippers".

And here, fabulously, is why:

'The Yazidis are mainly Kurds, spread out in villages across northern Iraq and around Lalish. The temple is leased out each year to a different family, who are entrusted to maintain the leafy courtyards and smoke- blackened halls in good order, while taking whatever surplus profits are made from the pilgrim trade.

The entrance to the sanctuary is adorned with a large black snake carved next to the stone portal, said to represent the serpent that tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden.

On one of the walls of Lalish’s principal outside courtyard is a beautiful image of a peacock, representing the main angel created by God when he formed the world. One of the Peacock Angel’s names is Shaytan, the same as the word for Satan in the Koran, which has led to misunderstandings about the Yazidi being devil worshippers. He is, however, only considered as one of seven archangels created by God and revered by this obscure ethnic minority. The shrines and tombs of Yazidi leaders that dot the landscape of northern Iraq are often referred to by local Muslims as “Beit Shaytan”, of the House of Satan.

The taboo on lettuce is also obscured by secrecy and age, but is believed to have arisen because the name in the Yazidi dialect of Kurdish resembles the title given to the seven angels when they appear in human form, giving rise to an injunction that prevents worshippers from eating the body of those whom they revere.'

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