This is my second blog about an Arab woman of courage. This woman is, Yanar Mohammed. The original homeland of Ms. Mohammed is Iraq. However, today Ms. Mohammed holds duel citizenship in Iraq and Canada. She and her family left Iraq more than 20 years ago. In 2003, Ms. Mohammed returned as co-founder of the Organization for Women’s Freedom. She is horrified by Shariah law practiced in the bad lands of Iraq, including in her father’s native city, Tal Afar. Her big fear for the women abducted by the Islamic State is that when ISIS is defeated, the abducted women treated like sex slaves by ISIS, will be killed when they are returned to their families. The Organization for Women’s Freedom hopes to prevent this age-old practice from happening.
Because Ms. Mohammed holds duel citizenship, she has an out. She can leave the country. In my opinion, Yanar Mohammed is very brave. Because she wants to improve the lives of the women in Iraq, she risks her own to travel back and forth from Canada to Iraq and visa-versa. There is no guarantee that her Canadian passport will save her from a snipers bullet or from being kidnapped by any fringe Islamic group.
In addition, Ms. Mohammed has not endeared herself to any of the western powers fighting the Islamic State. She blames the Western powers for handing over political power to conservative clerics and tribal leaders, none of whom are in the least interested in women’s rights. At 54, Ms. Mohammed, black hair flying in the wind, eyes darkened by lack of rest and by abundant stress, this Arab woman embodies the struggle of Arab women to achieve respect, the first step toward equality with Arab men.
It is nearly impossible for a Western mother to imagine a culture where a returning captive son is treated with warmth and affection and a returning captive daughter is faced with death. May Yanar Mohammed plea, “Let them live!” be heard now and forever.