Turkey promoting radical Islam among Yazidis in northern Syria - report

Turkey’s top religious body, the Religious Affair Directorate (Diyanet), has built mosques in Yazidi villages to promote Islamization in the northern Syrian region of Afrin, Germany -based Society for Threatened Peoples International (STPI) said on Tuesday.

The STPI said that Turkey is promoting a particularly radical interpretation of Sunni Islam as Diyanet also disseminates its religious views to local schools in Germany through the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DİTİB), one of Germany’s largest Islamic organisations.

“Yazidi sources tell us about the construction of a mosque in Yazidi village of Shadere, south of Afrin-City. 45 Yazidi people still live there but there were 450 before the Turkish occupation, ” Kamal Sido, STPI’s Middle East expert said.

“After most of them were displaced, Turkey settled radical Muslims there. They regularly carry out raids against the indigenous Kurdish population.”

Diyanet determines what is preached in the mosques and Afrin’s new Koran schools, according to Sido.

“Even little girls often have to wear a headscarf. During the latest Gaza escalation, the mosques circulated hate speech against Israel and Jews,” he said.

DITIB is not a liberal association but propagates a radical Islam, according to the STPI, which said that during Turkey’s 2018 military offensive into Afrin, almost all DITIB mosques in Germany prayed for the victory of the occupying army.

At least 96 percent of the population of Afrin was once Kurdish. After the Turkish occupation, most of them were displaced, and the Kurdish population fell to around 25 percent.

"This means that Turkey is about to achieve one of its most important goals: to make Afrin Kurdish-free," Sido said.

Afrin’s Kurds are predominantly moderate Sunni Muslims. At one point, 20,000 to 30,000 Yazidis lived in Afrin. They currently number only a few thousand.