I am here to talk about how the Islamic world treats religious minorities, culminating in barbarism and perhaps peaking in sheer inhumanity in northern Iraq at the systematic slaughter of the Yazidi people, a pre-Islamic religious minority often falsely labeled ‘devil worshipers’ by the ignorance of the unlearned. Yazidi and other minorities such as Iraqi Christians are being subject to mass murder brutality, and torture- sometimes children included. This includes rape and the selling of women into sex slavery, as the Islamic world stands idly by with more readiness to take action against Dutch cartoonists and offensive speech at a moments notice.
This has to stop. We need new civilizational standards of human wellbeing and human flourishing, to which every religion and belief system should stand up for, just as readily as they rally against anything else. A response from the Muslim world – however heterogeneous and non-uniform it may be – is more than warranted. Most Muslims don;t advocate for what ISIS is doing, nor for the decades-old (arguably centuries-old) persecution and mistreatment of religious minorities living in their territories. However, most don’t go out of their way to denounce it either.
This needs to change.
I am here to make an unequivocal and bold, yet surprisingly obvious, request. A request which is perhaps bold in political terms but quite obvious and commonsensical in moral terms. In fact, something which on all accounts of morality, decency, human compassion, and informed reason, should not be bold or controversial but glaringly obvious. I am requesting something which should be priority number one on the moral and religious radar of the Muslim world, yet is surprisingly absent of any shared worldwide narrative or media presence.
We are not asking that anyone renounce any tenant of their faith or the doctrines that remain so sacred in their hearts and their minds, pens and hundreds of years of scholarship and defense of their innermost points of scripture and Hadithic narrative that lie at the heart of the Islam that hundreds of millions hold as dear as air itself.
We are not asking anyone to support a cause they do not want to support, or to endorse or defend any government or policy they do not agree with. At its core, this is not a US policy action, or about any government, ideology, or party. It is not even about any one country or nation. It is quite simply a response to the immediate and dire need to defend the Yezidi people from mass, inhumane violence, reprehensible treatment of their women, the death of their children, and their possible extinction. This is also a bold stand that humanity must take against ISIS, the most grotesque, reprehensible, and terrifying force of extremists that has come out of the dark shadows of worldly ignorance, human cruelty, and the violent misuse of Islam.
Finally, this is supporting not armies or governments nor any one army or police force; it is simply, at its core, supporting people – Muslims and non-Muslims alike who want to live and not be brutalized, raped, enslaved and massacred. It is supporting anyone who does not want to any more mass murder and Godless, soulless treatment of other human beings including women and children, dying of thirst, sold into slavery, raped, massacred, and treated like inhuman objects by those who wish to leave the smear of a new Holocaust on the history books of Islam. It is supporting anyone who wants to stop this –whether they be local homegrown defense forces, doctors, medics, and humanitarians who simply do not wish see an ethnocide of an entire people.
As a civilization, we have two responses to this atrocity: we can stand by and watch, and shed tears as we soon try to forget it ever happened and pretend to get on with our lives, while preaching how tragic it is when those fighting under the banner of Islam turn into the worst violators of human well-being on the planet; or, we can decide – and we do have a choice in the matter – that we do not approve of this use of Islam nor the massacring of an entire people. We can decide that standing by an letting thousands of men, women and children die or be pulled into slavery and mistreatment is not only monumentally tragic – it is morally wrong. In fact, it is reprehensible. We have, collectively, hundreds of world leaders, nations, and resources to respond to this terrible event, without backing any one government or taking a side with any one foreign policy. There are people who want to go help the Kurdish people and stop a human massacre – we would simply be supporting these people with the basic tools they need to do what is right, by any measure of morality, through the eyes of Islam or any system of ideas and precepts which values human life. No one would be undermining Islam; to the contrary, this would be strengthening it against those who are making the most horrible use of its name in centuries. Anyone proud of their faith and loving towards humankind should do some serious soul-searching and consider just how important it is to support this effort.
There are many ways to help, and much debate as to how. A good starting point would be to please visit the following website, put together by Yazidis and their supporters, known as ‘Save the Yazidi’, at www.savetheyazidis.org