Posted by: Lister | May 5, 2007

Du’a Khalil Aswad

After seeing this story on PM I did a bit of googling. Du’a is the 17 year old girl who was stoned to death by members of the Yazidi community in Kurdish Iraq. Her crime? Falling in love with a Muslim boy, and (probably) converting to Islam.

The murder of 23 Yazidi passengers on a bus was almost certainly to avenge her killing.

Here is an account from Amnesty:

The girl, Du’a Khalil Aswad, aged about 17 and from the minority Kurdish Yezidi religious group, was stoned to death last month (on or around 7 April), apparently as punishment for her relationship with a Muslim teenager.

Du’a Khalil Aswad’s murder is said to have been committed by relatives and other Yezidi men because of her relationship with a Sunni Muslim boy and her absence from her home for one night. Some reports suggested that she had converted to Islam, but others deny this. She was killed by a group of eight or nine men in the presence of a large crowd in the town of Bashika, near the city of Mosul, northern Iraq.

Initially, she was reportedly given shelter in the house of a Yezidi tribal leader in Bashika, but her killers stormed the house, took her outside and stoned her to death. Her death by stoning, which lasted for some 30 minutes, was recorded on video film, which was then widely distributed on the internet. The film reportedly shows that members of local security forces were present but failed to intervene to prevent the stoning or arrest those responsible.

[…] While the boy in this case is reportedly now in hiding for his own safety, Du’a Khalil Aswad’s death has triggered further killing. In an apparent act of retaliation, some 23 Yezidi workers were attacked and killed on 22 April, apparently by members of a Sunni armed group. The Yezidis, reportedly all men, were travelling on a bus between Mosul and Bashika when the vehicle was stopped by gunmen, who made the Yezidis disembark and then summarily killed them.

In the CBS report, above, it was the Christians who were told to get off the bus. The Yezidi were then driven to east Mosul, where they were murdered.

The Guardian, also using AP sources, says:

A Muslim man who said he released from the bus with six Christians said 10 gunmen stopped the vehicle, then ordered the driver to steer it into a narrow alley, where they ordered the passengers off and separated them according to their identification cards, which indicate the holders’ religion.

“Then they asked the Yazidis to get back on the bus. The gunmen started to shout ‘God curse your devil’ and they were telling the Yazidis that ‘It is not your business if the woman decided to convert to Islam,” said the passenger, Mustafa Ali Mustafa.

The Yazidi faith is ancient, but it has been influenced by more modern faiths.

[The Yazadi] believe that their name is derived from the word Yezdan or Ezid meaning God; however in ancient vernaculars of Kurdistan such as Urartian the term ‘izid-u’ (vb.) means ‘command’ or ‘admonish’

[…] In the Yazidi worldview, God created the world, which is now in the care of a Heptad of seven Holy Beings, often known as Angels or heft sirr (the Seven Mysteries). Pre-eminent among these is Melek Taus (Tawûsê Melek in Kurdish), the Peacock Angel, who is equated with Satan or Devil by some Muslims and Christians. According to the Encyclopedia of the Orient, “The reason for the Yazidis reputation of being devil worshipers, is connected to the other name of Melek Taus, Shaytan, the same name as the Koran’s for Satan.”

However, according to the Kurdish linguist Jamal Nebez, the word Taus is most probably derived from the Greek and is related to the words Zeus and Theos, alluding to the meaning of God. Accordingly, Malak Ta’us is God’s Angel, and this is how Yezidis themselves see Melek Taus.

[…] God ordered Melek Ta’us not to bow to other beings. Then God created the other archangels and ordered them to bring him dust (Ax) from the Earth (Erd) and build the body of Adam. Then God gave life to Adam from his own breath and instructed all archangels to bow to Adam. All archangels obeyed except Melek Ta’us. As God inquired, Malak Ta’us replied, “How can I submit to another being! I am from your illumination while Adam is made of dust.” Then God praised him and made him the leader of all angels and his deputy on the Earth.

[…] Yazidis argue that the order to bow to Adam was only a test for Melek Ta’us, since if God says something then it happens (Bibe, dibe). In other words, God could have made him submit to Adam, but gave Ta’us the choice as a test.

Satan (or Shaitan) refused to bow to Adam according to Islam, and is condemned for that refusal. There may also be a Gnostic tradition with the same story, but in which Satan’s behaviour is accepted. And, according to Time:

The Sufis, the mystics of Islam, imagined that the pride of Iblis may have been blind ideological purity, a supremely flawed political correctness. According to one account, when he was asked to bow before Adam, God’s newest and best-beloved creation, Iblis refused. “There is only one God,” he declared, “and I will make obeisance only to Him.” More of a monotheist than God himself, Iblis was banished from Heaven.

The Yazidi believe that wickedness is in the hearts of people, not angels.

[update] Four arrested in Iraq.

Authorities in northern Iraq have arrested four people in connection with the “honor killing” last month of a Kurdish teen

[…] Two of the four arrested are members of the victim’s family, police in Nineveh province said Thursday. Four others, including a cousin thought to have instigated the killing, are being sought.

[…] Provincial officials don’t think much could have been done to stop the honor killing, but at least three officers are being investigated and could be fired.

“The climate, the religious and social climate is such that people can do that in daylight and that authorities do not intervene,” said the spokeswoman for the Organization of Womens’ Freedom in Iraq, Houzan Mahmoud.

Also, the top police official in Bashiqa is being replaced.

Via Stop Honour killings.


  1. A site campaigning against “honour killings” — in a variety of languages.

  2. Many people began by thinking this was an act of sectarian hatred between Sunnis and another Muslim sect. An honest error, of course, and people corrected themselves. I left a comment on ahasnie’s blog.

    ahasnie replied (on my about page),

    Thanks for the info… I updated it. I kept hearing that Muslims were among the crowd. I pray that none were. Though it still brings to mind the same shariah punishment for adultery which does not reflect the Qur’an. Many thanks…

    Ahasnie wasn’t alone. EG:
    Dustin Kesselberg at JREF

    Termin8or at MPACUK

  3. That Du’a site mentioned above in comments is largely a copy of my own site at

  4. Thanks, Joanne.
    That’s a very worthwhile site.

    I’ve updated my post with info on the arrests.

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