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Yazidis appoint new spiritual leader in Iraq – in pictures


image copyrightEPA

image captionAli Aliyas was named at a ceremony on Wednesday

The Yazidi community in Iraq has picked a new spiritual leader two months after the death of their top cleric.

At a ceremony in the temple of Lalish – the holiest site for the minority group – they formally named Ali Alyas as the new Baba Sheikh, their chief religious guide.

Yazidis are a religious and ethnic minority, most of whom live in northern Iraq.

They faced harsh persecution at the hands of the Islamic State (IS) group, who took over the region in 2014 and killed, enslaved and raped thousands of Yazidis.

In July human rights group Amnesty International said thousands of women and children are suffering severe mental and physical wounds from their time under IS control.

image copyrightEPA

image captionHundreds came to pay their respects to the new leader

image copyrightEPA

image captionIt took place in Lalish in northern Iraq, the Yazidis’ holiest site

image copyrightEPA

image captionThey wore special clothing for the event in Lalish

Hundreds gathered at the shrine on Wednesday to pay their respects to the new leader.

Their former spiritual head, Khurto Hajji Ismail, died last month at the age of 87. His successor is only in his 40s.

Many Muslims and other groups incorrectly view Yazidis as devil worshippers. Their monotheistic religion incorporates elements of many faiths, including Zoroastrianism.

There are estimated to be about 500,000 Yazidis worldwide, most living in Iraq’s Nineveh plains.

image copyrightEPA

image captionPeople paid their respects to the new Baba Sheikh

image copyrightEPA

image captionThere are estimated to be about 500,000 Yazidis worldwide, most of whom live in northern Iraq

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