“The Girl Who Beat ISIS,” written by Farida Khalaf is the true story of herself when she was kidnapped by ISIS fighters. In August of 2014, a normal Yazidi girl named Farida living in the mountains with her family of Northern Iraq, had to experience the pain and suffering of her village being attacked by the biggest terrorist group known to man, ISIS. This experience meant her entire world was changed in a ways she did not wish to imagine.
An idea that is strongly addressed in the book is endurance. Farida has to endure many things. Firstly, she is taken away from her father, mother and brothers. The villagers are given a chance to convert to Islam but they refuse, so the ISIS fighters separate the men and women and later, Farida and other unmarried girls are separated again from the older women, including their mothers. Her father and brothers are taken to the mountain and tortured to death. This shows how important faith is to the villagers, “death is better than betraying our religion.” Their faith give them strength and encourage them to fight against ISIS until their last minute. She is transported to taken city of Mosul and then to the slave market in Raqqa, where “customers” come in to buy beautiful virgin girls to take home. “Is it true what they said on television? That you’ve murdered our fathers and brothers? ..Why did you do that to them? Let us go at least!,” the intensity of this part of the book indicates that these Yazidi families will be mentally and emotionally scarred by these kidnaps for generations to come. These ISIS fighters show no respect for human rights, religions and relationships. It is clear that the women are seen as “objects” that need to serve the ISIS men’s system.
Another idea that is addressed in the book is the importance of faith.When Farida is at the slave market in Raqqa, she is accompanied by the ISIS fighters. She knows that if she is caught, she will be shot, however, that doesn’t stop her from looking for a way to escape.. “We’ve got to get out of here. We must find a way to escape… We can’t give up.” I learnt from this book that, in a survival situation, you need to adapt that “can do” attitude. Positive attitude has a very strong influence on the motivation necessary for setting the goal to live. When you are placed in an unexpected situation, you will be forced to make your own decisions in solving problems; if you don’t make the decision, then, you may be stuck with the problem forever. If you want to survive then you must set goals in your mind and visualize yourself reaching it.
I felt a sense of sadness for Farida and her friend, whom she went through the abominable situation together. They were young teenagers, and they were exposed to war and all the terror that came with it. They were separated from their families, and even though, Farida now lives in Germany with her mother and brothers, who also managed to escape, the horror is still haunting her every night. Her family will never be complete again, with the loss of her father and elder brother.
I would strongly recommend this book because it is an eye opening book which offers a deeper understanding of the situation that is still happening in the world today. Some people today think that refugees just came to Germany for the benefits offered by the government, while this is true in some cases, it is not true for Farida, her families and friends who have courageously escaped from ISIS. These people were in need for help, and I truly admire the German government for presenting this prodigious opportunity for Farida to emigrate to Germany, so that she can continue her schooling, and pursue her dream of becoming a Maths teacher.