Continued Turkish attempts to impose Islam on Yazidis in Afrin – STP

QAMISHLI, Syria (North Press) – Turkey is continuing its systematic attempts to impose Islam on the Yazidis of Afrin in northwest Syria, said Kamal Sido, the Middle East Consultant of the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP), on Wednesday.

Days ago, a video was circulated online showing two Yazidis from the city of Afrin flanking a Muslim sheikh, declaring their conversion to Islam. The clip sparked outrage on social media.

In an exclusive statement to North Press, Sido said, “Islamists controlling the Kurdish region of Afrin in the north of Syria are forcing members of religious minorities to convert to Islam.” 

The STP, an independent international organization that supports the rights of minorities and indigenous peoples, said in a statement that “the two Yazidis were repeatedly put under pressure and threatened with death. Then, they were given the choice between Islam or death.” North Press could not confirm that the two people were forcibly converted.

The STP statement, titled “Forced conversions in northern Syria”, indicated that “the Yazidi religious community however has no protection.”

It appealed to the German federal government to stop supporting the Islamist forces in Afrin and all of Syria – politically, diplomatically, and especially financially.

“The militias are to be seen as the armed arm of the pro-Turkish Syrian opposition organization, National Coalition of the Syrian Revolutionary Forces and the Opposition. This group can rely on support by Germany’s Foreign Office,” the statement added.

Sido confirmed in his interview with North Press that this is not the first time that Yazidis are exposed to an attempt to impose the Islamic religion on them, and that all Christians and Armenians fled Afrin after the Turkish occupation.

Sido further explained that the issue goes beyond the Yazidi Kurds, but rather that Sunni Kurds are being subjected to attempts to convert to extremist forms of Islam that “do not accept a culture of tolerance”.

Sido pointed out that the incident is part of a systematic policy by Turkey and its affiliated factions, which enjoys political cover from the Syrian Coalition and the local councils in Afrin.

He called on all institutions to stand against such plans, expressing fears that Turkey plans to include the Afrin region and other Kurdish-majority areas it occupies to its territory.

Reporting by Egid Meshmesh