Daily Israel Report

Watch: Islamic State Forcibly Converts Hundreds of Yazidis

Amid reports of widespread massacres, IS fighters say they are 'misunderstood', urge Yazidis to abandon their faith.
By Ari Soffer
First Publish: 8/21/2014, 11:17 AM

The Islamic State terrorist group has released a video, purportedly showing hundreds of members of the Yazidi minority sect converting to Islam.

The video was uploaded not long after IS released footage of the beheading of American journalist James Foley, in an act that underlined the brutal methods of the group, formerly known as ISIS.

In the latest video, filmed in the Sinjar mountain region where tens of thousands of Yazidis had fled to escape Islamic State forces, the jihadis try to portray a softer image, embracing the new converts and saying that the Islamist group has been "misunderstood".

"Right now you are infidels," one Islamic State member tells a large group of Yazidi men sitting in what appears to be a school. "After this you will become Muslims and you will have rights."

"Repeat after me," he orders, after which the men undergo their forced conversion process.

The Yazidis are a tight-knit community of Kurdish ethnicity who practice an ancient religion derived from Zoroastrianism. In recent weeks they have borne the brunt of the Islamic State's bloody campaign in northern Iraq, with thousands of civilians murdered in cold blood after refusing to convert.

There have also been numerous reports of the systematic rape of Yazidi women, with large numbers of women and children also being sold into slavery by the Islamists.

Hundreds of thousands have fled their homes to escape a similar fate, but roughly 50,000 became trapped on Mount Sinjar after Islamic State forces surrounded it.

Those reports, triggering concerns of an impending genocide, prompted the US to bomb IS targets, aiding Kurdish forces in their campaign to take back territory seized by the IS.

Witnesses said that those Yazidis who did not flee the advance hung white flags from their homes in an attempt to avoid being slaughtered.

But in the video, one of the Islamic State fighters claimed that "what has been said is the opposite of reality," and that once the Yazidis abandoned their religion to embrace Islam, everything would be provided for them.

"Men, women and children have converted and I was with them and they are happy with their conversions," he said.

Dismissing deliveries of western aid, he said refugees should surrender to IS to survive.

"We advise the Yazidis to come down from the mountain and convert.

"If they stay on the mountain, they will die of starvation and thirst. This talk about aid from Western and crusader countries is all lies. If they convert, we will give them everything they need. They will live a happy life."