President Donald Trump is facing backlash for awkward comments, once again. According to The Washington Post, on Wednesday, July 17, the president met with survivors of religious persecution from countries including China, Myanmar, Iraq, North Korea, Iran, and Turkey, to hear their stories. Yazidi human rights activist Nadia Murad was among those present at the meeting, and on Friday, July 19, a video of their exchange went viral. Suffice to say that these tweets about Donald Trump asking Nadia Murad about her Nobel Prize make it clear that social media users are not happy. The White House did not immediately respond to Elite Daily's request for comment on the meeting.
Murad, a member of Iraq's ethnic and religious Yazidi minority and survivor of the Yazidi genocide, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018 for her work to highlight sexual violence against women as a tool of war. In 2014, she was abducted when the Islamic State (IS), also known as ISIS, killed more than 1,000 people in Murad's village during the Yazidi genocide, and took thousands of Yazidi women and girls into sexual slavery. Murad escaped after three months in IS captivity. Following her escape, Murad ended up in Germany and started working with victims of abuse and human trafficking. Since her escape, she has spoken publicly about her rape and abuse and advocated for other survivors. In 2015, she testified publicly before the United Nations about her experience.
Although he has previously taken credit for fighting against IS, the president apparently seemed unfamiliar with Murad's story and work. The White House did not immediately respond to Elite Daily's request for comment on Trump's familiarity with Murad and her work. When Murad told Trump on July 17 that IS had killed her mother and six brothers, Trump asked her, "Where are they now?"
Murad paused for a moment before reiterating that IS had killed them. "They're in the mass graves in Sinjar," Murad explained.
Trump then changed the subject to Murad's Nobel Peace Prize. “And you had the Nobel Prize?" Trump asked. "That’s incredible. They gave it to you for what reason? You can explain."
"For what reason?" Murad responded. "After all this happened to me, I wouldn't give up. I make it clear to everyone that ISIS raped thousands of Yazidi women."
Murad then asked Trump to call on Kurdish and Iraqi authorities to support religious and ethnic minorities, and to help Yazidis return to their homes. Trump interrupted Murad to confirm that, "ISIS is gone" from control of the area.
"This is not about ISIS," Murad said. "It's about I'm in danger. My people cannot go back."
"I'm going to look into it very strongly," Trump replied. Elite Daily has reached out to the White House for comment on what Trump plans to do to address Murad's concerns, but did not immediately hear back.
Twitter users criticized the president for focusing on Murad's Nobel Prize as she tried to explain her life and work. However, Trump's interaction with Murad wasn't the only moment that social media users identified as a misstep. In another widely-circulated video clip from the meeting, a Rohingya refugee who identified himself as being from a refugee camp in Bangladesh asked Trump what he planned to do to help Rohingya refugees return home. The Rohingya, a Muslim minority group of Southeast Asia, have been subjected to religious and ethnic persecution and are one of the largest stateless populations in the world, according to Human Rights Watch.
The meeting's attendees also included a Uighur Muslim from China, a Jewish Holocaust survivor, Christians from North Korea and Iran, and other survivors of religious persecution. However, Trump's exchange with Murad received a disproportionate amount of attention on social media, and the following tweets make it clear why:
Former resident physician Eugene Gu also offered this important reminder of why Murad's work matters:
Trump has previously suggested that he should get a Nobel Peace Prize for his work on Syria and North Korea, The Washington Post reported, and has referenced former President Barack Obama's prize, awarded in 2009. His interest in Murad's Nobel Prize therefore drew criticism, as people claimed it was the only part of their exchange to which he really seemed to pay attention.
Whether Trump responded appropriately to Murad's story or not, she seems to be getting support from social media. If there's any silver lining here, it's that thanks to the viral moment, more people will hear her story and her message. It's something.