Monday, 13 October 2014

Yazidi girls kidnapped by Isil tell of their captivity

Here are some stories of Yazidi girls who escaped from Isil. The stories are harrowing,  but oddly like stories from the Arabian Nights. 

They also remind me of Henry Mayhew's spare narratives and Philip Larkin's poem inspired by reading Mayhew, Deceptions.

When I was a child my parents worried that because I read so much I would live life at second hand, mediated through books, and rereading this post I see that this is exactly what I do.  Illiterates and people who do not like read much see things more clearly. This is why people who read engineering and science at university are dull while at university but become interesting in middle age. They do not see things mediated through literature. Unfortunately they do not escape television and the internet so easily, though.

I have been to Lalish, the centre of the Yazidi religion, and I am horrified by this attempt to destroy an ancient community. Allowing Yazidis asylum in the rich world will do even more to destroy their culture. Even though I would prefer the Yazidis to convert to Christianity the antiquity of Yazidism holds me enthralled. I am convinced that it Is one of the very oldest religions in the world, perhaps the oldest. 

The Americans and British have no choice but to act against ISIS or ISIL or whatever their name is this week, but what is worrying is that this is exactly what they want us to do. It does feel like the beginning of the Vietnamese war. And we Anglo-Saxons are fighting in a region where we have no great strategic interest, oil or no oil, for the interests of countries like Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States and Israel, whose interests are not ours.

Meanwhile, in England, the National Union of Students refuses to condemn ISIS/ISIL and speak of ‘Islamophobia’, a very pernicious word that should be expunged from the dictionary. The words racism and sexism by contrast are also used to close down debate but mean something and are, at least occasionally, useful.

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