Samira Salih al-Nuaimi died last week as she lived: a brave symbol of human rights in a region of religious extremist and oppression. Al-Nuaimi, a mother of three and lawyer, was taken from her home in Mosul by Islamic State fighters and taken to a Sharia court for trial for apostasy in her abandoning of true Islamic teachings. This true Islamic path for ISIS then included days of torture and the executive of Al-Nuaimi.
ISIS took over Mosul and began a slew of executions under Sharia law that happened to include anyone arguing for human rights. Al-Nuaimi’s family was later called to pick up her body at a morgue. The corpse showed evidence of savage torture, according to witnesses. ISIS fighters are well-known for torturing captives.
Notably, she was accused of posting Facebook messages criticizing the militants’ destruction of religious sites in Mosul. That was enough to make her guilty of apostasy in the eyes of the Sharia “court.”
It is startling to see young women responding to social media to come at become wives to ISIS fighters, particularly girls from the West like the two recent Austrian teens (though one may now be dead). These girls give up virtually every freedom to join Islamic State which is terrorizing and killing brave women like Al-Nuaimi. The courage and sacrifice of Al-Nuaimi reminds every lawyer of our common obligation to human rights and the struggle against authoritarian rule. Few of us will ever face the mortal dangers that Al-Nuaimi faced every day. That should commit us to fight all the harder against voices against individual liberty and free speech in our own countries.
I cannot imagine (and do not like to contemplate) what these Islamic extremists did to Al-Nuaimi before killing her. They want to force faith through fear and Al-Nuaimi was fearless. That made her a danger. I could think of no greater symbol for not just women in the Middle East but for us all.