We must speak out. Whether justifying a slave market with the Koran or an act of sexual violence by a piece of clothing we must recognize this for what it is, an excuse to abuse. We must never allow sexual violence to occur, we must always speak out and we must ensure that our own religion, culture or society does not do what ISIS is doing, find excuses to abuse women.
The respect that I felt for this small group of women was profound. What I met that day was a group of warriors who held a tremendous amount of bravery, courage and determination. They are not only standing up against the violence and oppression of the Islamic State but are challenging their own cultural norms and taboos that would typically prevent women from being part of an armed group in Kurdistan.
The challenge of understanding "who's fighting who" in the conflict in Syria and Iraq has led to a simplified representation of the Kurds solely taking up arms against ISIS. Kurdish groups such as the People's Protection Units (YPG) have indeed proved worthy adversaries to this Islamist extremist group and as allies to the US. However, scores of Iraqi Kurds are also fighting alongside violent extremist groups.
The debate on Britain joining airstrikes against Daesh in Syria generated more heat than light with an exaggerated focus on their impact, for better or worse. The Ministry of Defence website records just one missile strike in Syria over Christmas. This skewed debate also overlooks the contribution of British soft power to defeating Daesh. Airstrikes and Shakespeare.
The great hope is that they will return to their classes and spread the word. Hopefully those messages from Noor, Munira and Bushra, will eventually reach the very children preparing themselves to flee their loving, comfortable homes in Britain and head for a new life with Daesh. These Yazidi girls know the horrible truth of the fate that will befall anyone considering that move.
After the rejection by the British Parliament of intervention against Assad, he has been given free rein to destroy Syria and its people, creating devastation, chaos and a power vacuum. Into that gap stepped Islamic State, Iran and the Shia militias which have committed brutal and widespread crimes of their own.
While there has been deliberate targeting of minorities, including Christians and Yazidis, it is clear that acute need exists among people from all religious backgrounds. An estimated 2.2 million people have been displaced across Iraq in the last year and 5.2 million require humanitarian assistance.
The FAC report and Boris in Erbil are substantial gains for the burgeoning Anglo-Kurdish relationship, which is greatly assisted by a growing global realisation that the Kurds are a vital ally. On balance, last week in Westminster was good for the Kurds and their friends, and made much sweeter by the defeat of Daish in Kobane.
The stark starting point of the influential and bipartisan Foreign Affairs Committee's long-awaited report on the Kurdistan Region is that the future of Iraq as a nation state is in question as never before. It judges that the clock is ticking on whether Iraq can be stitched back into a functioning whole.
Charlie Hebdo, described by the former far-right French leader Le Pen as "anarcho-Trotskist" and by itself as "irreverent," is not everyone's cup of chai in lambasting all religions and authority but ignore it if you don't like it or sue it if it breaks the law, and that does not and should not include mocking belief systems.