Last weekend saw Nadia Murad, a young Yazidi woman who was captured and sold on the slave market by Daesh militants in Iraq, come to Cairo to hold several meetings with Egyptian State officials. She was met with huge public interest; she featured in the media, met Cairo University students, the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, all the way to President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi.
Egypt: first destination
Murad decided to make Egypt the first destination in her Middle East tour because of Egypt’s leadership in the Arab World and the role she can play to free Yazidi girls from slavery and save them from genocide. She rejects Daesh claims that Yazidis are infidels and calls upon the Egyptian government and parliament to recognise the Yazidi genocide at the hands of Daesh.
During her meeting with President Sisi, Murad praised Egypt as the cradle of civilisation, and the land of tolerance, moderate thought and acceptance of minorities. She told the President about her ordeal and how she was held as a sex slave by Daesh militants for 3 months; about hundreds of old and handicapped persons who were left to their fate without any food or water; about more than 700 men who were killed in her village, including six of her brothers; and about the dozens of her family members who were taken as war booty.
“Mr President,” Murad said, “I come to you today because I have lost my mother and my family members, and I was already fatherless many years before the current war. I consider myself your daughter and the daughter of humanity which unites us all. I come to you because more than half a million Yazidis have lost everything they own and are now homeless and hungry. More than 3400 women and children are held captive by Daesh and are being humiliated every day. I come to you because my people are expelled from their homeland and hundreds are dying while searching for a new haven where they can live with dignity.”
What is the true face of Islam?
Murad regrets that the crimes of Daesh are committed in the name of Islam. “I was raped in the name of Islam,” she said, “they recited verses from the Qur’an and then they raped us; and they sold us in the Islamic court. My life was taken away from me in the name of Islam. But this is not fair to Islam and Muslims. Since time immemorial we used to live in peace with our Muslim neighbours before Daesh appeared. We always viewed them as peaceful and caring persons. But Daesh is giving a different face to Islam. I no longer know what the true face of Islam is. You Muslims now have a historic responsibility to rid your society and your religion of these criminals who commit their crimes in the name of Islam. You must fight this extremist thought first; it is important to form an international coalition to fight Daesh forces but it is more important to eradicate their thought because killing them is simply not the solution.”
Murad called for modernising the religious discourse taught in mosques to bring it in line with our modern times. She said that the real Jihad would be to save the women and children who are sold on the slave market and to rescue millions of Syrian, Iraqi and Yemeni refugees.
Crimes against humanity
The visits that Murad is conducting in support of the Yazidi cause are organised by Nareen Shammo, a Yazidi journalist and human rights activist, who dedicated her life to relieve the suffering of the Yazidi population. Shammo is trying to shed light on the crimes Daesh has committed against the Yazidis after they took control of the city of Mosul and its surroundings in Iraq. Such atrocities include the mass murders of young men, the abduction of women and girls, and the transfer of young boys to military training camps in Syria; sadly, the international community chose to turn a blind eye to such crimes.
Shammo told Watani that it is imperative that the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and the International Criminal Court recognise the atrocities committed against Yazidis as crimes against humanity for which the offenders must be put to trial.
Shammo condemned the international community’s silence vis-à-vis these crimes. She warned that the situation of the Yazidi minority is going from bad to worse, especially that contact with many of the abducted has been lost and information regarding the abducted women is no longer available.
To raise awareness about the atrocities committed against the Yazidi community, Shammo contacted several international organisations where Murad was invited to give her testimony about what she endured. On 16 December Murad addressed the members of the UNSC and begged them to free Yazidi women from slavery and humiliation.
Non-Muslim women ‘rented’ or bought
In her UNSC address, Murad recounted how she was abducted and forced into slavery after Daesh took control of the city of Mosul in 2014. Raped after she refused to convert to Islam, she was sometimes “rented” or presented as gift to Daesh militants.
“I was given to a leader called Salman,” Murad said. “He took me to his house and asked me to convert to Islam which I refused to do. He then raped me and a couple of days later he took me to the Islamic courthouse where a man recited some verses from the Qur’an and then told Salman that I am halal for him. I was then given an Islamic name and a number; my picture and number were posted in the courthouse to make this information available for anyone who would be interested in “renting” or buying me.
“Salman took me back to his house, then to his aunt’s house. Then on the night before I was sold, he left me with his guards who repeatedly raped me. As his driver was transporting me to the house of the man who had bought me, the driver raped me and after he left the room I managed to escape. I found refuge in the house of a villager who accepted to hide me in return for money. I managed to call a brother of mine in Kirkuk who sent him the required sum. After hiding in a secret room for 17 days, the villager gave me a full-face veil and clothes that revealed nothing but my eyes. He also gave me an ID card in the name of his wife. I finally managed to escape and I now live in Germany.
Just one of many
“We were treated in the most inhuman way,” she added, “I was beaten several times especially after I attempted to escape. As a punishment, Salman once allowed his guards to rape me for an entire night. My body still carries scars of the brutal treatment I was given; I was fed the leftovers of Salman and his guards who were dressed in black and heavily armed. They “rented” me to whoever was willing to pay the equivalent of USD80 and sometimes gave me as a gift to others. Some of these men forced me to wear indecent clothes and to apply heavy makeup which I didn’t have the right to refuse.
“I am one of the many girls who were assaulted and raped by Daesh. Some girls committed suicide because they were unable to escape this hell. Some even lost their lives because of torture. As for the older women, my mother included, we have no idea what happened to them. I hope the day will come when all the girls will be freed and the fate of the women like my other will be known.”
Murad finally begged the whole world to save the Yazidi women from the Daesh hell. “Our people have been mass murdered, yet nobody cares,” she said. “Hundreds of girls are in danger; our children are sent to military camps in Syria and Iraq. The world must unite to save us from these monsters.”
29 December 2015