US ambassador to Iraq secures $500,000 fund for Yezidi temple
US Ambassador to Baghdad Mathew Tueller (C) announces half a million dollars in funding for the Temple of Lalish restoration alongside US Consul General to Erbil Steve Fagin (L), and the representative of the Yezidi Mir Hazim Mir Tahsin Beg in Lalish, Duhok province, July 18, 2019.
Lalish Temple, the spiritual home of the Yezidi minority in Duhok, has received a $500,000 grant from the US government to fund its restoration, US Ambassador to Baghdad Mathew Tueller announced Thursday.
Tueller visited Lalish on Thursday alongside Steve Fagin, the US consul general to Erbil, where he announced the funding.
“We are happy to announce the United States has provided $500,000 in order to renovate the Lalish Temple,” Tueller told a press conference in the picturesque Yezidi village.
“The project will be supervised by Pennsylvania University with some local implementers, and the aim of the project is to renovate some parts of Lalish Temple that are in a very bad condition,” he added.
The ambassador said the project was launched in order to preserve the Yezidi community’s holy sites and valuable icons.
The Yezidi faith is among the world’s oldest religions. The exact date Lalish was established is unknown. Historians and archaeologists believe the site could be at least 4,000 years old and a part of Sumer and other ancient civilizations.
Lalish temple is tucked away in a secluded valley 9 kilometers from the town of Sheikhan and 40 kilometers east of Duhok city.
Yezidis usually gather here with their spiritual leaders for their most important rituals. Followers are expected to make at least one pilgrimage to Lalish in their lifetime.
Visitors are expected to remove their shoes before entering the village as a sign of respect.
Most of the structural damage in Lalish is due to its age and a lack of maintenance.