Why France needs to recognize the Yazidi genocide

After Germany, Armenia, Belgium and recently the Netherlands, France must officially recognize the Yezidi genocide. A legal term strictly defined under the Rome Statute as the “intentional subjection of a group to conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part”. This is what the Kurdish-speaking Yezidi community has experienced. On the night between the third and fourth of August 2014, hordes of jihadists swooped down on the small town of Sinjar to subjugate this minority, whom they consider to be subhuman and “devil worshippers.”

Seven millennia old, this religion venerates ancestral symbols found throughout Mesopotamia, such as the angel-peacock (“the emanation of God”). To Islamic supremacists, this is heresy. The 2014 genocide comes after decades of persecution and pogroms endured under the Ottoman Empire. Centuries of hateful and dehumanizing propaganda enabled this genocidal culmination.

« Which conclusions would have been drawn from the Shoah if Hitler and his lieutenants had been tried as simple terrorist leaders? »

Bashedly unreserved and certain to be in the right, Daech’s men entered the Yazidi villages to shatter their culture by any means necessary, separating the men from the women to be executed further in the mountains, assessing the women’s virginities to later sell them as if they were cattle. Kids were abducted, drugged and brought to reeducation camps, where fanatical masters teach them to hate their religion and decapitate in the name of Islam. 

The Yezidi genocide combines all the abuses that enable of disfiguring humanity: extermination, colonization and slavery. Its international recognition is only a question of time. International investigators began work only weeks after that first night of horror, making the Yezidi genocide the first genocide to be documented so quickly, almost in real time.


But their work has been hindered by red tape and a figurative minefield, two countries at war, Iraq and Syria, which have not signed the Rome Statute. It is abroad that recognition of the Yezidi genocide is making progress, thanks to the testimonies of its survivors and the efforts of NGOs.

As early as 2016, French parliamentarians voted for a resolution to recognize the ongoing “genocide.” Doing so on behalf of France would allow French jihadists who participated in it to be tried for “crimes against humanity” – not just “participation in a terrorist organization.”

This is a lengthier process, with crimes that are more delicate to demonstrate, but from which ensure longer, more just sentences. Those are the stakes of this recognition. To give justice to the victims and above all to defuse centuries of anti-Yezidi hatred. What lessons would we have learned from the Shoah if Hitler and his lieutenants had been tried as mere terrorist leaders?

Caroline Fourest

Incest is an ogre

It consumes our children. It is a poison at the root of millions of battered and traumatized lives, a source of suffering, addictions and sometimes reproduced violence. We would like to believe that this evil is confined to a few perverts in raincoats or cassocks. But it is within our homes that we are most at risk, where the majority of pedocriminal rapes take place. How many of us have had our childhood abruptly ended by these monsters?

The first time I heard of an ogre was at school.  A classmate, who had been oddly silent and reclusive for a few days, confided what she suffered through at home. Her father was not the head of Le Siècle or the magazine Pouvoir. He was a locksmith. A few of us helped her to talk about it. The school did its job. And our friend was taken away from her father. Without us ever knowing if we really did help her.

Of our small group, the first to understand what was going on suffered under a father, an artist this one, who was as fascinating as he was twisted. My friend could flee without giving up on the world that made up her entire life, with its bright moments, and its darker ones. A cruel contrast expertly depicted in la Familia grande, in which a man full of self confidence and enthusiasm becomes the worst of threats, looming over those he cherishes and destroys all the same  . The most brutal abuse of power. The most common also.


Pretty much every time a woman confided in me, it was to tell me about sexual abuse they suffered through. Very often inflicted by a family member, a father, an uncle, or a father-in-law. For a few years, as I awakened to feminist ideas, I started believing that all men raped save my father, eternally respectful and loving. The exact opposite of a peculiar man of my extended family, who always played around boundaries, and of whom I know I had to be wary.

We would love it if we could never cross paths again with even one of these abusers. But they are everywhere, they live among us, and we all know one. Which doesn’t mean that “everybody knows”. Or that we can substitute ourselves for the victims to denounce them. Or that every individual that ignores those abuses should wind up on a list.

Enabling free expression about incest is an absolute necessity. It is where literary works such as Le Consentement and La Familia Grande shine. But they also constitute a failure. Books made tribunal in the absence of proper justice. Which the shortening prescription delays in incest cases must address.

In the meantime, only famous rapists will wind up one the front pages of papers. It is a good thing if those cases set precedents. But let’s not get fooled. If the voice of all the victims reached as far, every household, every social world would have to take a long, hard look at themselves.

Caroline Fourest

Abandoned by Trump, Syrian Kurds look to Paris

Donald Trump played to repatriate his “boys” as soon as possible. Putin prefers the Syrian dictator. France understands their dream of a future that is both democratic and secular.

This morning in Paris, the capital of a country that has always been faithful to the Kurds, a Rojava delegation came seeking support. It included Leila Mustafa (the mayor of Raqqa, who runs the city with incredible courage), Asrin Abdallah (spokeswoman of the Kurdish fighters of the YPJ) and Abd El Mehbach (co-president of the autonomous administration of northern Syria).

We met them just after their meeting with the French President, on the initiative of Patrice Franceschi and Khaled Issa, who represents Rojava in France. To hear them, Emmanuel Macron renewed his will to help them militarily and financially. It is in France’s interest if it wants to stabilize and secure this country, where are now kept 6000 jihadists of 54 nationalities.

If we do not want to repatriate them then the only solution is to recognize Rojava’s judicial autonomy. His representative requested “support for the creation of a tribunal to try these mercenaries in accordance with international law”.

Without this solution, the fate of Syria and its prisoners will be played between the claws of Erdogan and Bashar El Assad. The former will let them go. The latter will make us complicit in crimes against humanity. America and Russia are playing with fire and with our safety. If it existed instead of imploding, Europe could resist and save its honor. At its heart, France must continue to support the Kurdish way, the only one to show a little light.

Caroline Fourest is the director of Sisters In Arms, a film which tells the story of a young Yazidi woman kidnapped and sold as a sex slave to a Jihadist. After managing to escape, she decides to take up arms and join an international squad of female fighters under Kurdish command. Coming from different backgrounds, they all have wounds to heal. They discover the power they have over the Jihadists (who are terrified of being killed by a woman) and together these sisters in arms lead an epic war against fanaticism.

Trump and transphobic regression

26Not happy enough with removing the word “gender” from anti-discrimination laws, the Trump administration threatens to forcefully assign – and retroactively – any person to his “genitals of birth” or his chromosomes. Overnight, the American Trans could be without papers, without legal existence and without identity.

This ideological war, because it is one, will not stop there. American democracy is starting a huge step back towards a biologizing, authoritarian, supremacist and religious vision of society.

“We will not be erased.” It is the cry of the heart and the resistance Hashtag launched by organizations like the National Center for Transgender Equality, in panic since the last declarations coming from the White House. There is something to be scared of. The president who recommends grabbing women by their pussy seems to have an almost fetishistic tendency to put his nose in the genitals of others without being invited.

As soon as he was elected, he wanted to exclude transsexuals from the army. Their numbers proved so high that he had to give up. But his administration has hardened recruitments to try to slow their entry. Now the same administration is thinking of forcibly transferring 1.4 million citizens who have legally changed their sexual identity. A state assignment of incredible violence.

The naive are wrong never to worry. Those who did not see Trump’s victory coming, or his links with Putin, reassured themselves that he would not do much. False. It is always risky to elect an unstable and deficient person at the head of the world’s largest democracy. Because democracies are fragile. Their gains are more easily defeated than they are earned. Proof. We are  witnessing, stunned attacks unimaginable just a few years ago.

In this world where politicians are powerless to deeply reduce inequalities, we would like to believe that formal rights, at least, are progressing. In this field, the United States has long been an example. It’s over. Under the influence of the extreme right supremacist and fundamentalist, this compass no longer indicates the North. And do not pull the world up anymore.

Who will still be able to encourage certain countries in Africa, Chechnya or Russia to revise their homophobic and transphobic laws if America joins the concert of Nations trampling these freedoms? What will remain of sexual liberation in Europe if all the far-right parties backed by Putin agree to ressurect homophobia and transphobia that constantly attack and even kill?

The so-called Western world might well go behind the Iran of the Mullahs in terms of tolerance. Shiite fundamentalists hate as much as Christian fundamentalists the transgression of sexualities and identities. Yet even in Iran, one can change sex and identity card. And the Supreme Guide does not think about going back! Trump do.

Pushed in the back by a fundamentalist vice-president and a religious right that has gangrened the Republican Party since decades, he began by drying up the American funds of the UN in favor of Family Planning. With a limited vocabulary, he now wants to erase the word “foetus”, “vulnerability” and “science-based” from all US administrations. The pages on global warming have already disappeared from the website of the presidency. Many families in deep America havetaken their kid out of public school to teach them at home that dinosaurs never existed. Several states now protect the right of religious enterprises to discriminate against homosexuals. The Supreme Court keeps nibbling away the progress made in the fight against discrimination.

What’s next ? With the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh and an ultra-conservative majority, the US Supreme Court could become the instrument of revenge on feminism. One day, the federal right to abortion will eventually be overthrown. That day everyone will fall from his chair. We will be told that no one has seen it coming. Yet, all the signals were flashing.


Caroline Fourest


Former journalist in Charlie Hebdo, Caroline Fourest is a writter and a film director.

Her last books in english are In Praise of Blasphemy and Brother Tariq.The double speak of Tariq Ramadan

This column has first been published in french by the Magazine Marianne on the 26 oct 2018.