BurkaHundreds of women in Iraq were taken captive by Islamic militants with "vicious plans" for them, an official said Friday, August 8. Kamil Amin, the spokesman for Iraq's Human Rights Ministry, confirmed that the women from the Yazidi religious minority are being held in schools in Mosul, Iraq's second largest city.

"We think that the terrorists by now consider them slaves and they have vicious plans for them," Amin told The Associated Press. "We think that these women are going to be used in demeaning ways by those terrorists to satisfy their animalistic urges in a way that contradicts all the human and Islamic values."

By Sunday, it was reported that "at least 500" Yazidis were killed and buried in mass graves, with an estimated 300 kept alive as slaves.

What an absolutely heartbreaking situation. Those women and their families must be terrified about what's going to happen to them. There are so many evil people in the world, but knowledge is power, so let's figure out what's going on and if there's anything we can do to help.

Who are these women? The women who were kidnapped as slaves are under the age of 35, and are practicing Yazidis. The terrorists that have captured them believe them to be "devil worshippers" because they refuse to convert to their form of perverted Islam. 

Who kidnapped them? ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) is a group of Sunni Muslim extremists who believe it's their duty to convert or kill basically every person on the planet. According to Human rights minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, the insurgents celebrated the mass murder of hundreds over the weekend with "cheers and weapons waved in the air." Yeah, these are not nice people.

Is the United States headed back to Iraq over this? So far -- no. President Obama pulled our troops on the ground out of Iraq in 2011, and there are no immediate plans to send any back. However, we are launching "laser-guided bombs and drone strikes on key terrorist positions," and the President has warned that it could last for months.

What humanitarian efforts are being made? The kidnapped women aren't the only ones affected by the insurgency. The UN reports that at least 40,000 Yazidis have sought refuge on Mount Sinjar in north Iraq, but food and water are scarce there. The US is sending thousands of prepared meals and thousands of gallons of water via airdrop to the refugees. On Saturday, President Obama said, "The United States can't just look away. That's not who we are. We're Americans. We act. We lead. And that's what we're going to do on that mountain."

Is there hope for religious minorities in Iraq? Not so long as ISIS is around. As Reihan Salam at Slate so eloquently put it, "Even al-Qaida is more tolerant of religious minorities than the lunatics of ISIS." They are religious nuts who truly believe mass genocide is their god-given duty to carry out. The fragile Iraqi government hasn't been strong enough to combat ISIS. The only hope they seem to have at the moment is to flee as refugees.

Do you think peace in the Middle East will ever be possible?

 

Image via United States Forces Iraq/Flickr