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With U.S. President Barack Obama having ordered airstrikes and humanitarian airdrops of food and relief supplies to refugees in northern Iraq last week, the world is finally taking action against the Islamic State.Within a few weeks, the Islamic State has virtually eliminated the entire Shiite and Christian populations from the lands that it controls. The city of Mosul, home to one of the world's oldest Christian communities, no longer has any Christians left. As terrible as all of this is, the worst of the persecution was aimed at the Yazidis, an ancient religious group that lives among the Kurds.Although influenced over the centuries by Christianity and Islam, the Yazidi religion has ancient pagan roots that go back at least to the late Bronze Age. For example, Zoroastrianism, the religion of ancient Iran – to which Yazidi religious beliefs have been linked – is closely related to early Hinduism.Over the centuries, both Christians and Muslims dubbed the Yazidi "devil worshippers," and subjected them to relentless persecution, which was especially extreme under the Ottoman Turks in the 18th and 19th centuries.
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