ISIS tortures and executes Iraqi women’s-rights activist

I meant to post this yesterday, but there is so little time. . . Still, it must be recorded so that the full horrors of ISIS’s behavior can be known. Both Thursday’s New York Times and Reliefweb (summarizing a condemnation by a UN envoy) report that an Iraqi lawyer, Sameera Salih Ali al-Nuaimy, was taken from her home in Iraq by members of ISIS, tortured, and then executed by firing squad. Her crime? Apostasy.

From the NYT:

Ms. Nuaimy had posted comments on her Facebook page condemning the “barbaric” bombing and destroying of mosques and shrines in Mosul, a northern Iraqi city, by the Islamic State, the militant group also known as ISIS or ISIL. She was convicted of apostasy by a “so-called court,” Mr. Zeid said, adding that her family had been barred from giving her a funeral.

The killing follows the execution of a number of Iraqi women in areas under Islamic State control documented by United Nations monitors, including two candidates contesting Iraq’s general election in Nineveh Province, who were killed in July. A third female candidate was abducted by gunmen in eastern Mosul and has not been heard from since.

And, like Pol Pot and Mao before them, ISIS targets the group most likely to make trouble: educated and literate people, especially women, whose acts of criticizing Islamic society are especially odious to devout Muslims:

United Nations monitors in Iraq have received numerous reports of executions of women by Islamic State gunmen, some after perfunctory trials, the organization said. “Educated, professional women seem to be particularly at risk,” it added.

These killings, together with abductions and the enslavement of women and children, illustrate the “utterly poisonous nature” of the extremist group, Mr. Zeid said, drawing attention to the plight of hundreds of women and girls of the Yazidi religious minority and other ethnic and religious groups sold into slavery, raped or forced into marriage after the group overran large areas of northern Iraq.

The thought that someone would be tortured for five days before being shot boggles my mind. It’s a return to medieval barbarism. And Karen Armstrong tells us this has nothing to do with religion: it’s due to enforced secularism (what??). Now tell me how execution for “apostasy” could exist without religion. And every country where that’s a crime is Islamic.  From Wikipedia:

In 2011, 20 countries across the globe prohibited its citizens from apostasy; in these countries, it is a criminal offense to abandon one’s faith to become atheist, or convert to another religion. All 20 of these countries were majority Islamic nations, of which 11 were in the Middle East.

Here’s the map, with the penalties in each of the countries. Can one seriously make a case that in every one of those countries the laws against apostasy stem from colonialism, or from religion that, coopted by a malicious state, was once benign and is now odious?  After all, both the Qur’an and the hadith specify punishment for leaving the faith, and in the hadith that punishment is death. Punishment for apostasy was part of the faith from the beginning.


We already know that ISIS is poisonous, and somehow—I don’t know how—it must be destroyed. Although other Muslims have condemned the group as “un-Islamic,” it’s a charge I find ludicrous, for this killing, rape, and abduction of women is merely an extension of the more moderate Islamic doctrine of marginalizing and oppressing women.  Though you can face charges of “Islamophobia” for saying so, we must incessantly condemn the “moderate” Muslim practice of not allowing women to achieve their full potential. A large proportion of these “moderates” may not engage in beheadings, rapes, and tortures, but they still treat half of their population as second-class citizens—if you can even call them “citizens.” “Breeder cattle” is more like it.


Sameera Salih Ali al-Nuaimy


  1. Posted September 27, 2014 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Progressive Paradigm and commented:
    As I wrote previously, ISIS seeks to wreak havoc on progressive values worldwide. Their treatment of women and children is horrific. I support the intervention to protect and restabilize democracy in Iraq, which is different than overthrowing a regime. We must act in order to defend our progressive ideals globally. We don’t just live in a country. We live in a world, and as the most powerful nation in the world, we have an obligation to defend humanity everywhere. This piece illustrates ISIS rudimentary evolutionary practices.

    • Glen Steen
      Posted September 27, 2014 at 8:39 am | Permalink


  2. francis
    Posted September 27, 2014 at 8:03 am | Permalink


  3. Posted September 27, 2014 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    But, of late, most western feminists have been too busy condemning Fox News reporter’s joke ‘boobs on the ground’ and the supposed virulent misogyny in video games, to care about the plight of women in Islamic countries. Because that would be Islamophobic. And of course those women ‘choose’ to be treated that way (being brainwashed from birth, getting beat up if you disobey and fear of hell certainly help).
    But I am certain, if there were more choice, more and more muslim women would, over time, choose not to wear the headscarf or niqab, and choose too drive and work. Not all, but enough would want freedom that it should be available.

    Anyone who still thinks all of them, always, choose the oppression, should check out the facebook page Stealthy Freedom. Really, go check it.
    Keep in mind that this page is only about Iranian women resisting the ‘headscarf’. Women subjected to more oppressive forms of subjugation (there are many) don’t even have a voice to start such pages and dare not speak up. Those with power and voice (western feminists) have a responsibility to help them, or give up the pretense that they care about women.

    • Posted September 27, 2014 at 8:20 am | Permalink

      I agree, ruthless recluse. We have the same phenomenon in the UK: it seems that all that equal-rights stuff is only for well-off, white, educated women. It’s downright racist.

      • Posted September 27, 2014 at 8:29 am | Permalink

        I think it’s part of a bigger problem. Initially, equality was about treating people as individuals, disregarding their race, gender, sexuality, etc. Now, it’s become the opposite – social justice warriors (and they’re everywhere these days – tumblr, guardian, BBC, politics, etc.) now disregard individuality to treat people as part of their groups – religious, racial, or gender-based.
        So generalized ‘muslim-rights’ which include subjugation of women to varying degrees, trump the individual rights of women who do not ascribe to similar Islamic values. Same is happening with other groups.
        But they do not see white people (collectively) as being ‘oppressed’ or needing rights, so they can advocate for different individual or sub-group rights (such as women’s rights and gay rights) within the white community.
        I know I’m being a little incoherent, but it makes sense if you think about it.

        • geckzilla
          Posted September 27, 2014 at 8:54 am | Permalink

          ruthless/berk: Do you really think that most feminists do not care about the oppression of women in circumstances all over the world? The video games and Fox News thing may be the only thing that makes it to your eyes through the media. This is as bad as condemning Dawkins as a misogynist after never actually reading his writings or hearing him talk. I know that Dawkins and many feminists care deeply about Muslim women (and men too!)

          • Posted September 27, 2014 at 9:06 am | Permalink

            I know many do care about them. But the fact is most of mainstream feminists do not talk about or do something about it for fear of ‘islamophobia’ or naive belief in cultural relativism.

            Emphasis on ‘most’ – because there are still some organizations and women working on it, obviously.

            And about those things making it to my eyes through the media – that’s exactly my point. Trivial stuff is given way more attention than actual oppression by mainstream feminists these days.

            Last reply from me. Adios.

            • Posted September 27, 2014 at 9:08 am | Permalink

              I don’t want this thread to turn into an indictment of Western feminists for not caring enough about the oppression of women under Islam. We can discuss the issue without igniting a flame war, which would be inevitable if this continued.

        • Jeffrey Jones
          Posted September 27, 2014 at 10:32 am | Permalink

          I agree. Here in South Africa group rights were the basis of Afrikaner Nationalist Apartheid. The British liberal notion of individual rights was denied by the Apartheid government. Hence you had rights for whites, rights for Afrikaners and (lack of) rights for blacks.

  4. aljoc
    Posted September 27, 2014 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    While IS is a horrendous organisation which must be destroyed somehow, I think it is merely a symptom of an even bigger problem, so if we do destroy them the area will still be in a bad state. The destruction of Gaddafi’s regime in Libya hasn’t proved to be much of an improvement, and eradicating IS will not bring peace to that region.

    There is an underlying problem in the area which makes it possible for IS to take root and gain a lot of support from some people in the region. I don’t know exactly what this underlying problem is, and I suspect that it might be insoluble, but that is the real problem that needs to be solved.

    • Jeffrey Jones
      Posted September 27, 2014 at 10:33 am | Permalink

      The underlying problem is Islam.

      • DSG
        Posted September 27, 2014 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

        Thomas Friedman called Islam ” software”
        like comparing windows 95 to today’s current Window computers.
        When anyone runs “Islam software” on A sentient beings brain it’s always going to have the same result.(Windows 95 or DOS cannot function in today’s world).. Which is why any country that’s running Islam software suffers from misogyny ,poverty, honor killing their women
        no education
        no electricity
        no cars and no magazines or newspapers-countries that Run Islam basically function as if they are living in the dark ages.
        Sam Harris has said many times that the software that creates the religion Jainism will never result in violence because running Jainism software on a sentient human brain makes a Jain not want to hurt even a bug. A Militant radical “Jain”will walk very slowly as he looks at the ground so as not to even crush an insect. So you are right, the bottom line is Islam-and no one will speak the truth
        we can kill each group that follows Saddam Hussein and Qaddafi in Libya one after the other after the other but they will never stop if they are running the software “Islam”. So what is the solution that will make everybody happy??
        (only Sam Harris has said the answer out loud).

    • reasonshark
      Posted September 28, 2014 at 1:59 am | Permalink

      The underlying problem might be a corruption of or total lack of democratic principles in government. If Who Speaks For Islam? is to be believed, then most Muslim citizens (at least the ones in certain Gallup polls) are considerably more mild and open than their governments would suggest. That suggests a big way to solve the problem would involve overthrowing the incumbents and installing a political infrastructure which enables these moderate muslims’ voices to actually be heard.


      Of course, some of the claims have been contradicted by other polls Jerry has posted, so take this with a pinch of salt.

      • Posted September 29, 2014 at 9:27 am | Permalink

        Overthrowing more governments is one of the things I’d be willing to bet would *not* work, especially long term. That is, in fact, an *actual* (justified) greviance of people around the world: that the big powers foment coups and what not in their countries.

        • reasonshark
          Posted September 29, 2014 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

          Well sure, if the Americans try it. The only other thing I can think of is some sort of international pressure on these countries to change, allying with local and national democracy promoters in these countries, and phasing out oil and other products from these countries until they agree. Failing that, inciting a peaceful rebellion similar to the one that took down Apartheid.

          Or, I suppose, we could just sit back and hope it happens on its own. There’s always that.

  5. Posted September 27, 2014 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    The thought that someone would be tortured for five days before being shot boggles my mind. It’s a return to medieval barbarism.

    Sounds more like a US execution.

  6. Posted September 27, 2014 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    I doubt this is the case, but is it possible President Obama purposely says ISISL isn’t Islamic in an effort to denigrate them (dis them, in street parlance)? By that I mean his statement at first appears as a sort of statement of denial. ‘No one who does these horrible things can truly be children of god’. But, maybe, thinking ISISL is attempting to be the purest representative of islam, the President’s statement that they are quite the opposite is a tacit and tactful attempt to insult them?

    Or is it obvious and I’m quite late to that realization?

    • Posted September 27, 2014 at 9:20 am | Permalink

      Insulting someone to no purpose isn’t something that would likely find its way into a presidential speech.

      The Obama administration has been careful from the beginning to position the US as opposing certain groups, rather than Islam in general, because forcing our allies in the region to choose between Islam and the US would be disappointing.

    • Posted September 27, 2014 at 9:25 am | Permalink

      Regardless of intent, it’s pretty likely to have that effect.

    • Diane G.
      Posted September 27, 2014 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

      According to an article I read recently, there is also a significant concern about hate-crimes in the US by those who would jump from criticism of Islam to hatred for Muslims.

      • John Scanlon, FCD
        Posted September 27, 2014 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

        Oh really? I read the same story yesterday, but it was set in Australia. That’s the way our media (and government) mostly operates, just recycle US/UK narratives and change the place-names, regardless of whether the story is true in either place.

        • Diane G.
          Posted September 28, 2014 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

          Well, we have a long history of vigilantism here so there’s definitely reason to worry.

          But such incidents do get blown way out of proportion, and our laws should handle them…

  7. Posted September 27, 2014 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    Now, now, Prof. CC. Aren’t you participating in the Atheist Denial Positivity Challenge? Stop attacking the low-hanging fruit that is ISIS and instead focus your efforts on someone/group who is much more reasonable and wreaking far less direct harm.

    /sarcasm (as if it were necessary)

    • Posted September 27, 2014 at 9:44 am | Permalink

      OT: the more I think about that “Positivity Challenge” the more its ridiculousness becomes apparent. If you were a grade-school teacher and were confronted with two misbehaving children, one punching his classmates in the face, the other composing somewhat derogatory limericks about his classmates, who would you deal with first? Where would you invest most of your disciplinary efforts?

      *Not* attacking the “low-hanging fruit” of violent fundamentalism is the wrong approach, if you ask me.

      • Filippo
        Posted September 27, 2014 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

        As a full-time substitute teacher, I have labored in those pedagogical vineyards:

        “If you must touch/hit someone, touch/hit YOURSELF! Leave people alone!”

      • reasonshark
        Posted September 28, 2014 at 2:06 am | Permalink

        If you were a grade-school teacher and were confronted with two misbehaving children, one punching his classmates in the face, the other composing somewhat derogatory limericks about his classmates, who would you deal with first?

        The limerick writer, of course. His militant and strident poetry will clearly incite more face-punching. And if the punchers start threatening to kill other classmates, well, clearly they must have done something to upset or offend him, so it’s naturally their fault.

        Plus, limerick boy won’t punch anyone, least of all you, of course. That’s a bonus.

  8. Posted September 27, 2014 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    Excellent article which I have Cross-posted on Howies Corner over here in the UK!

  9. Craig Gallagher
    Posted September 27, 2014 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    I dare say that map would look broadly similar when it comes to the “crime” of blasphemy which of course has nothing to do with religion what so ever!!

  10. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted September 27, 2014 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    Awful! Thanks, I didn’t know about this.

    I note that “nihilism” [Reliefweb] has been added to “not Islam” [NYT] as handwaving away the religious basis of ISIS actions. It surfaced in the comments on Jerry’s New Republic article on ISIS and the Inquisition. and now it is an apologist meme.

    • reasonshark
      Posted September 28, 2014 at 2:09 am | Permalink

      Which is a huge sign of crappy amateur psychology at work in their denials. The perpetrators are probably among the most moralistic and purpose-driven of humanity. They just happen to have bat-s**t insane ideas about what is right and what is wrong.

  11. Posted September 27, 2014 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    Since the map was created, Brunei has adopted Sharia law too.

    The Catholic Church tried killing people for apostasy for a few hundred years. The Enlightenment helped sort out their morals a bit, although like all religions, they still have a lot to learn from secular society about morality.

    Islam needs its own version of the Enlightenment. There’s a mosque just opened in South Africa where women pray alongside men and gays are welcome. Its imam is a former professor in Islamic studies at Oxford. Imo it’s a step in the right direction. Of course, he has had death threats and other Muslims are trying to close it because they consider it un-Islamic.

    • Diane G.
      Posted September 27, 2014 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

      The Catholic church is still killing a few people each year for apostasy–those women with problem pregnancies who need an abortion to save their lives…

      Your South African example does indeed sound like the best sort of solution at this time; let’s hope it’s a beginning and not just a temporary fluke.

      • Posted September 27, 2014 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

        You’re right, the Catholic Church still treats women as second-class citizens. Valuing the existence of a zygote over the life of a woman reduces her value to a breeding machine. Women have no decision-making ability in the Church’s hierarchy and women who speak out, like Nuns on a Bus, are denigrated.

        All religions set themselves up as moral authorities, but it is those who’ve broken out of the mindset imposed by religion that have continued to lead the evolution of society.

        • Posted September 27, 2014 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

          Heather, my mother was 17 when she got married during WW2. She (and my father) decided that they weren’t going to have more children than they could afford.She went to talk to the Catholic Priest and heard him saying – to another woman- that, if she didn’t want any more children, her husband would have to sleep on the roof. My Mum turned right around and distanced herself from the Catholic Church. I think that that was a brave decision for such a young woman. Especially as she had been told that she had damned her immortal soul! #Gladtbe the daughterofsomeonewithbrains 🙂

  12. merilee
    Posted September 27, 2014 at 1:26 pm | Permalink


  13. avijit1971
    Posted September 27, 2014 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    I am an avid reader of your ‘Why Evolution is true’ blog site, and off course I read your excellent book on evolution (with the same title ) as well. I never wrote to you before but this time I thought I should write to you. Your piece on ISIS (published in The New Republic) is excellent. You hit on the nail head.

    I was also thinking to write something on this for quite a long time. As I am familiar with the Koran and Hadith, I know ISIS ISIS speaks exactly for Islam.

    I wrote a piece recently along this line, which you can check here:

    An abridged version of this article has been accepted for Free Inquiry magazine recently.

    I again thank you for writing, and being an activist for the cause of spreading scientific temper and rationalism.


    • Posted September 27, 2014 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for sharing your story. How many bright young minds are being lost to this “virus”? Their potential is wasted on hate, violence, and oppression. Having always had the luxury of voicing criticism – even within my own mind – without fear of torture, death, and/or eternal punishment – I truly cannot imagine being immersed in such terror 24/7. Every inclination towards basic human respect is snuffed out by this non-stop fear and is replaced with all the worst components religion has to offer. I don’t think most of us Westerners can grasp the extent of this type of full indoctrination. And it’s all so fucking stupid. All this bloodshed and hate over…..over nothing. No words in any book are more valuable than a fellow human being’s right to peace and life.
      Thank you again for sharing, and for your bravery. Please keep safe.

      • avijit1971
        Posted September 29, 2014 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

        Thanks a lot for your kind comment Jeanine. Yes, I will try to remain safe.

        I get the flu shot in CVS, but it wont help in ‘virus of faith’ attack for sure. 😦

        Just kidding… 🙂

  14. Posted September 27, 2014 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    An appropriate feminist response:

  15. reasonshark
    Posted September 28, 2014 at 2:23 am | Permalink

    Merely the extracts of this story are painful to read. Barbarity like this should not exist at all, never mind in the 21st century, and yet it infests these countries like a zombie virus, keeping alive what should have died off long ago.

    Man, I feel sorry for Europe. We’re surrounded south and east by countries with crazy laws and governments. But most of all, I feel sorry for the citizens having to live in this nightmare region. When will it end?

    RIP, Ms. Nuaimy. You were a brave person.

  16. Posted September 28, 2014 at 5:45 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Episyllogism and commented:
    Apostasy, the law, and the “revealed” texts.

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