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Iraq's Kakai minority joins fight against Islamic State

Some in Iraq’s Kakai minority group have claimed to be Muslim to avoid persecution, while others are working to form a militia to protect themselves.
Volunteers to fight the Islamic State, from different Iraqi factions including Kurdish and Yazidis, train at a camping area near Kurdish security points on Bashiqa mountain, around 15km Northeast of the Islamic State held city of Mosul, March 7, 2015.  REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih (IRAQ - Tags: CIVIL UNREST) - RTR4SFUI

KIRKUK, Iraq — The desperation of a little-known minority fleeing the Islamic State and religious persecution has led some to deny their faith and others to take up arms.

Like the Christian and Yazidi minorities before them, the Kakais are forming an armed force to protect themselves. Also called “Yarsan” or “Ahel al-Haqq,” the Kakais were displaced from the Ninevah Plain area when IS invaded Mosul, the second-largest city in Iraq, in the summer of 2014. The Kakai creed dates back to the 14th century in western Iran and contains elements of Zoroastrianism and Shiism. They have been persecuted for their unusual beliefs, driving them to keep a low profile and giving them a reputation for being secretive.

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