A Nobel winner’s fight for religious freedom [video]

Nadia Murad, who is sharing the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize, transformed the brutality she suffered at the hands of ISIS in Iraq into a worldwide campaign for religious freedom and the rights of women.

Murad’s village of Kocho in northern Iraq was overrun by ISIS in 2014. The militants executed hundreds of men and women — including Murad’s family members — and sold the younger women, including Murad, in slave markets in Iraq and Syria.

The express intent of ISIS in this attack and others in the Sinjar region of Iraq was to exterminate the Yazidi, who number between 400,000 and 500,000 in Iraq. “Yazidis were a special target for ISIS,” Murad said. “They said, ‘This nation is a pagan one, and we are here to exterminate them.'”

Woman standing among soldiers (© Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters)
Nadia Murad, a Yazidi survivor and a United Nations goodwill ambassador for the dignity of survivors of human trafficking, greets Kurdish Peshmerga fighters near Sinjar, Iraq, on June 1, 2017. (© Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters)

Murad was enslaved in the city of Mosul and raped and tortured by her captors. After months of captivity, she managed to escape with the help of a family that smuggled her out of the ISIS-controlled region. Murad has spoken out courageously in the years since her escape to draw attention to the plight of the Yazidi.

On October 5, she and Dr. Denis Mukwege of Congo shared the Nobel Peace Prize for their work to end the use of mass rape as a weapon of war.

“Rape was used to destroy women and girls and to guarantee that these women could never lead a normal life again,” she told the U.N. Security Council in December 2015 through an interpreter.

Murad in July 2018 participated in the State Department’s first ministerial meeting on religious freedom, where she pleaded for the international community to help the Yazidi “practice their religion freely and protect their beliefs from annihilation.”

The fight for religious freedom for people around the world is a priority of the United States. At that meeting on religious freedom, Vice President Pence said the U.S. “stands for religious freedom yesterday, today and always.”