‘Jewish Schindler’ Saves Dozens of Yazidis and Christians from Islamic State
A Canadian Jewish businessman has spearheaded efforts to rescue Iraqi Yazidi and Christian girls from slavery after the girls were captured by ISIS troops, using money donated privately by business contacts. The businessman has cited Oskar Schindler, who rescued Jewish children from the holocaust, as his inspiration.
Last summer the world looked on in horror as ISIS swept through north Iraq, home to Assyrian and Chaldean Christians, and Yazidis. Hundreds of thousands fled before them, but thousands more starved to death in the desert, or were captured by Islamic forces. Girls in particular were bartered for in the markets, standing naked while men bought them as sex slaves.
But while most of the west turned off their TV sets, Canadian entrepreneur Steve Maman decided to take positive action. Making contacts in Iraq who could negotiate the release of the girls, Mr Maman raised thousands of Canadian dollars to finance a rescue operation, The Liberation of Christian and Yazidi Children of Iraq (CYCI).
Initially he turned to business contacts, mainly fellow Jews who he thanked as being “remarkably generous”, who donated tens of thousands of Canadian dollars to fund the efforts. Last month, he turned to GoFundMe in a bid to raise half a million. So far 120 girls have been freed, but around 2,700 are still being held.
“I said to myself: ‘I cannot, and will not stand idle. I will not look at the daily reports and stay passive’,” Mr Maman wrote in a statement on the website.
“The price of a child’s life to remove them from the hands of ISIS is between $1000-$3000. We, as avid consumers, spend that money on gadgets and tools. Why not spend that money to save a life?”
Most of the girls and women held by ISIS are being used as sex slaves, raped up to 30 times a day by both Islamic fighters and local men, he explained.
“Some of these children are as young as 8 years old. Not only are they at the mercy of the fighters, but also of the men still residing in Mosul; men of various ages, in some cases over 60 years of age. The rapes, abuse, and brutality they suffer at the hands of their captors are beyond imagination.
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