The High School Student News Site of The American School in London

The Standard

The High School Student News Site of The American School in London

The Standard

Why IS’s atrocities affect me

During this past summer, through my computer screen, television, and newspapers, I was exposed to the atrocities committed by the Islamic State (IS) throughout the Middle East. I was particularly afflicted by the atrocities that had been occurring to the Yazidis, a predominantly ethnically Kurdish sect that is derived from Zoroastrianism, Christianity and Islam, whose 700,000 strong population is mostly located in Iraq. 

Not only was I disturbed by the brutality of the actions, from murders to female trafficking of Yazidis, but I also felt personally attacked as I, too, come from a minority religion in the Middle East. Just the thought of the ancient culture of the Yazidi being destroyed by extremists truly terrified me.

As a Copt, a Christian minority in the majority Muslim country Egypt, I have grown up in an environment where I know I wasn’t accepted. I was marginalized for not being like those around me. I started learning this when, at the age of seven, I told my parents that I wanted to become President of Egypt, they replied, with a saddened tone, that I was not allowed to due to my religion.

Another encounter occurred three years ago when I was in Egypt for Winter Break and, unlike the tradition of previous years, my parents decided that it would be safer for us not to go to church on Christmas Eve as there had been numerous church bombings in the past few months.

With every increase in number of deaths or kidnaps of Yazidis that was shown on the ticker on the bottom of the CNN screen on TV, I felt a deeper sense of despair. But at the end of the day, it was just a number to me, another hundred deaths in a region that had unfortunately become accustomed to them.

On February 16, 2015, my dejection turned into exasperation. The number on the ticker was no longer a distant thought but one that hit close to home. On that day, IS posted a video of the beheading of 21 Copts in Libya. These men had recently migrated there in order to escape the economic and political instability in Egypt and to be able to send money back home to support their families. This atrocity personally touched me because we shared the same history.

When my father was four years old, the Egyptian government nationalized most private companies, including my grandfather’s. For that reason, my grandfather had to leave his wife and three young children in Egypt and move to Libya in order to ensure my father and uncles were able to receive a high quality education. These 21 innocent, beheaded men left their nation in the same altruistic desire to support their families, just like my grandfather had, and make sure that their children have a brighter future than their current ones. What awaited them was a slaughterhouse manned by irreverent, diabolical fanatics.

Since this incident, hundreds more Christians have been murdered. Most notably when Somali al-Shabaab militants stormed Garissa University College in Kenya. After a guns-blazing entrance, the fundamentalist terrorists filtered out Christian students from Muslim ones and executed them mercilessly. That bloody morning, 147 ambitious Christian students trying to wrestle a country out of its despondence were killed.

What is happening in the Middle East and Africa right now is a genocide of a race and extermination of a culture that has been alive for thousands of years. A culture that is sometimes heroic, sometimes valorous, but almost always innocent.  The ethnic cleansing of Christianity in the Middle East and nearby Africa is a watered-down, but just as horrifying, revival of the Holocaust. What the world has been trying to do in assuaging the barbarity of some minorities has evidently not been working. I understand that these innocent people dying are miles away from (our idea of) home and that there is no oil or resource that can be gained from helping them, but the world needs to open their eyes and acknowledge the atrocities occurring in order to find a truly viable solution.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Standard Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *