Trump signs legislation to help religious minorities in Iraq, Syria

by WorldTribune Staff, December 13, 2018

U.S. President Donald Trump on Dec. 11 signed legislation to direct U.S. humanitarian assistance to persecuted religious minorities in Iraq and Syria who were targeted for genocide by Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists.

“In recent years, ISIS has committed horrifying atrocities against religious and ethnic minorities in Syria and Iraq, including Christians, Yazidis, Shia and other groups,” Trump said.

President Donald signed the Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act on Dec. 11. / Getty Images

The new legislation will include faith-based programs and also allows government agencies to help groups that are investigating and prosecuting ISIS’s “despicable acts,” Trump said.

Related: Media silence as gang rape survivor from northern Iraq wins Nobel Peace Prize, Nov. 1, 2018

Rep. Chris Smith, New Jersey Republican, introduced the Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act. He said the measure also urges foreign governments to help apprehend ISIS jihadists by adding identifying information on suspects to their national security databases.

“The future of endangered religious and ethnic minorities targeted by ISIS for genocide, and pluralism in the Middle East, will depend on help from the United States.” Smith said.

Meanwhile, Iraqi activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Nadia Murad returned to Iraq and met with President Barham Salih in Baghdad on Dec. 12.

Murad, a member of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, was among thousands of women and girls who were captured and forced into sexual slavery by ISIS in 2014.

“There is no meaning to the Nobel prize without the ongoing work for the sake of peace,” Murad told group of community leaders and foreign ambassadors at the presidential palace.

Yazidis are followers of an ancient faith who are falsely branded devil-worshipers by Sunni extremists. When ISIS swept into northern Iraq in 2014, the jihadists massacred thousands of Yazidi men and enslaved an estimated 7,000 women and girls.

Some 3,000 Yazidi women and girls are still missing.

Murad called on the Iraqi government and the U.S.-led coalition to search for the missing. She also called on the government to rebuild her hometown, Sinjar. More than 80 percent of Yazidis are still living in displacement camps.

In her Nobel speech on Dec. 10, Murad urged world leaders to put an end to sexual violence, saying “the only prize in the world that can restore our dignity is justice and the prosecution of criminals.”

View Murad’s Nobel Prize speech, with English subtitles, here

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