Last month, the world watched in horror as an ISIS militant attacked Turkey’s historic center of Istanbul. A suicide bomber who had entered Turkey as a Syrian refugee blew himself up among a group of tourists at Sultanahmet Square, killing 10 German citizens. This horrific tragedy has received worldwide attention and sympathy, justifiably.
And while ISIS assaults on Westerners are often heavily covered by the media, what is regularly ignored are the attacks on Middle Eastern people that occur on a near daily basis. Unfortunately, the Western world turns a blind eye to the lives of many Muslims, Yazidis, and Kurds affected by ISIS militants.
In 2014, the UN documented ISIS savagery against Muslims. It found that ISIS was primarily responsible for the deaths of almost 10,000 civilians in Iraq alone—a Muslim-majority country. A separate report found that over six Iraqi civilians are murdered per day in car and suicide bombings—ISIS has claimed responsibility for an overwhelming majority of these deaths, which they boast about in their media forums. Additionally, it is not just the people that are being attacked. ISIS has been destroying mosques, shrines, and various other sacred and historical sites.
Examples of the vicious attacks against Muslims throughout 2014 alone include:
- Sept. 9: ISIS executed a Sunni imam in Mosul, Iraq for refusing to swear allegiance to ISIS.
- Aug. 2: A Muslim man in Salah ad Din, Iraq was abducted and later beheaded for refusing to swear loyalty to ISIS.
- Aug. 19: A Muslim female doctor in Mosul was murdered for organizing a protest to object ISIS’ mandate that female doctors cover their faces with religious veils when treating patients.
Recent examples of ISIS’ brutality against Muslims in just 2016 so far throughout the Muslim world include:
- Early January: ISIS murdered a four-year-old boy with a remote-controlled bomb in Salah ad Din.
- Jan 13: Seven members of Afghan security forces were killed in a suicide bombing targeting the Pakistani Consulate in Jalalabad, Afghanistan.
- Jan 14: There was a series of bombings in a business district in the capital of Indonesia, Jakarta, killing two and wounding many.
Additionally, shortly after its inception, ISIS enforced a system of sexual slavery, which it continues to practice today. In 2014, BBC reported that 3,500 Yazidi women and girls had been kidnapped and sold into slavery. Yazidis are a religious minority that inhabit the northwest region of Iraq. The few that have been lucky enough to escape recount the horrific details. A woman named Khama told BBC that she was sold as a servant to an ISIS member for 15,000 Iraqi dinars, which is only 13 USD. The man whom she was sold to was already married and had five other Yazidi women at his home. Women and girls like Khama are regularly sold to many different men and are brutally beaten and raped.
If you only keep up with mainstream media, you’d never know this. The tragic suicide bombing in Turkey compels me to remind readers that Muslims, Yazidis, and other minorities in the Middle East and greater Muslim world are far more likely to become victims of ISIS than a Westerner—a fact that is largely understated. But it has been grossly exaggerated in order to justify the multiple wars being waged in this part of the world. The worst part of this is the belief that Islamic terrorism is a threat to Western civilization.
The UN report also outlines how ISIS’ killings of these groups are detrimental to their own goals, intensifying anti-ISIS sentiment and resistance throughout the Muslim world as well as destroying their aim of attracting support from people all over the world. ISIS leaders are very well aware of this fact, so they use their online magazine and other media outlets to offer justifications, stating that either the victims indulge in drugs and alcohol, keep more than four wives, or that they simply aren’t Muslims. The latter reasoning is often given for attacks against Shia Muslims.
Either intentionally or out of gross negligence, mass media does not cover these events, or when they do, they’re not given priority. This is damaging as it causes many in the West to incorrectly believe that they are the main targets of ISIS, a fact that couldn’t be further from the truth.
It is especially important that the media gives more attention to ISIS’ crimes against Muslims. The coverage would hurt the group’s cause immensely and demonstrate that this fight is not one of Islam vs. the West. Rather, it is one of everyone refusing to live under ISIS’ ruthless iron fist against ISIS. Those brave Muslims who give their lives resisting and fighting against ISIS should be recognized for their courage.