May 03, 2016

The Real Casualty of Islam is Truth Itself

Post by Brittany Tedesco

I hesitated to ask the questions, concerned that I would poke at wounds that hadn't yet healed, and cause Samia, a 17-year-old Yazidi girl, to relive the horrific days of her captivity with ISIS. She'd sat on stage at the International Congress on Religious Persecution in New York City to relay her story to the audience, all the while maintaining a nearly blank expression.

When she was 13 years old, ISIS surrounded her village. One of their henchmen separated her from her mother and sold her to Abu Ali, a man over the age of 50. He sexually abused her until he was tired of her, and then sold her to another older man. This man added her to his collection of eight other Yazidi girls he kept as sex slaves at his house in Mosul, Iraq.

Samia presented the facts to the audience, but left out some of the more shameful details of her ordeal. These I learned when she sat across from me at a table with three other men, including her translator.

When I asked about the conditions in her makeshift prison in Mosul, she told me about the lack of food and clean water. . . and about what happened to the girls if they resisted their captor's sexual advances.

The girls, she said through her translator, would be put into a room with four or five other men who would take turns raping them.

"Did this happen to you?" I asked, feeling as though I was peeling off a scab.

She nodded as the tears started. Never once did she make eye contact with the men at our table. . . only me. Samia, with her small frame and wide eyes, looked to me to be much younger than 17. It wasn't hard for me to imagine her as a scared 13-year-old girl.

ISIS men in truck.

I couldn't bear to ask any more questions, but she continued talking—even pulling up her sleeve to show me a scar on her arm.

"I will never forget the image of ISIS rounding up my father and all of the men of our village to execute them," she said as she wept.

Her mother, brothers, sisters, and several relatives—45 people in all—are still in ISIS captivity.

Samia escaped from the house in Mosul after disguising herself as a boy. She cut her hair, put on a hat, and dressed in boy's clothing. After slipping out early one morning, she walked down the street, head down, until she took the risk to wave down a cab.

It wouldn't be unlikely, in that ISIS-controlled city, for a cab driver to be with ISIS—this one happened not to be. In fact, he helped Samia escape to Kurdistan, even creating a fake ID for her.

At this event on religious freedom in New York, I learned that around 2,800 Yazidi girls are still in ISIS captivity. Another 1,200 Yazidi boys are being trained as ISIS fighters.

In March, the U.S. government finally designated the extermination of religious minorities in the Middle East as a genocide. . . but not after deliberating for six months on whether or not to include Christians in that designation. Political leaders could no longer ignore ISIS' systematic brutality toward the Yazidi people, but some argued that there was no real intent to eliminate the Christians from their homelands.

Nina Shea, Director of the Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom, clarified the situation for us. In ISIS-controlled regions, she said, there are no intact churches or Christian communities.

You might have heard that when ISIS captures a city, they offer Christians the option of paying the jizya (tax for being non-Muslim) in lieu of enslavement, forced conversion, or death. This, Shea said, is simply not true. For the Christian, it's either one of the above options or flee from home.

ISIS' goal is to exterminate every trace of Christian presence. . . to "purify" the land, Shea said.

Throughout the world, Christians comprise 80 percent of persecuted minorities. And there is no greater persecutor than Islam.

It has become politically incorrect to call Islam anything but a "religion of peace." This is the message we're fed by politicians and the media. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Convoy of ISIS personnel

Joseph Fadelle, an Iraqi author, became a Christian after weighing the teachings of Islam. He cited verses in the Quran and Hadith (traditions of Mohammed) that advise the killing of apostates and infidels, of whom he is now one. After he left Islam, a Shiite cleric issued a fatwa calling for his death. The fatwa is universal—so wherever he goes he can be subject to assassination attempts--and it has no expiration date.

"When you speak of the kidnapping of Yazidi girls, there is a verse in the Quran that commands it and Mohammed practiced it," Fadelle said. "We talk a lot about ISIS. . . and speak about victimization, but we actually have to get to the root problem, which is Islam itself—it is ideological."

If we don't speak the truth about Islam, he asserted, we will never have entryway into the problem.

"The real casualty is truth," Fadelle said. "And everyone who refuses to tell the truth stands accused of feeding this monster."

Christian Aid Mission supports an indigenous ministry in Iraq that is caring for and sharing the gospel with the traumatized Yazidi people. Click here to read more and support this work.