ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – Messi, an Ezidi Kurdish boy from Shingal, along with his family and relatives, was kidnapped and held captive by the Islamic State (IS) extremists for two years when he was forced to change his name.
The five-year-old Messi was named after the famous Barcelona football player Lionel Messi since his father admired the Argentinian national player.
Speaking to Kurdistan24, Messi's family said that the extremists denounced the boy's name as an "infidel" and forced him to change his name to "Hassan."
"They brainwashed and intimated the kid, making him reject his name and ask to be called Hassan,” Messi’s aunt told Kurdistan24.
The boy is said to have lost his speech after being terrorized by the extremists.
Messi and his parents were rescued from IS six months ago. They have been living at Mamlyan camp for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Akre, Kurdistan Region ever since their freedom.
Editing by Ava Homa