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Spiritual leader of 15 million Ismailis to meet government and faith leaders from more than 25 countries in France


Agan Khan
Image Credit:Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

Paris: The Aga Khan on Tuesday marked 60 years as a spiritual leader of around 15 million Ismaili Muslims.

To mark his occasion, Prince Karim Aga Khan, 80, will meet with government and faith leaders from more than 25 countries in Chantilly, France.

Followers of the Aga Khan, known as Ismailis, are scattered across Pakistan and India, while others live in Central Asia and the West.

As part of his role, the Aga Khan serves as founder and chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), a massive charitable organisation.

The network, which has its headquarters in Switzerland, employs 80,000 staff, aims to boost developing countries and alleviate poverty.

While guided by Islamic ethics, the AKDN claims to work for the common good of everyone, regardless of their gender, origin, or religion.

The AKDN’s agencies have mandates ranging from health and education to architecture, micro-finance, rural development, and revitalising historic cities.

Some of the new charity projects and initiatives to be announced or dedicated this year include increased access to finance for education, health and housing, early childhood development, and infrastructure projects in developing countries.

More resources and capacity will be given to some of the AKDN’s institutions, such as the Karachi-Aga Khan University and the University of Central Asia.

Parallel celebrations will be held at Ismaili Community centres around the world.



By Hannah Lynch and Chris Johannes 

On August 2, 2014 thousands of Yezidis from the village of Kocho in northern Iraq were rounded up and summarily killed by ISIS. Many women and girls were sold into slavery by ISIS. Since escaping captivity, Nadia Murad has become an outspoken representative of the Yezidi people and for others who faced atrocities at the hands of ISIS. She made the journey home on June 1, 2017.


Kurdish Peshmerga and Iraqi forces secured the route through Shingal



Locals are happy to see Nadia after almost three years 



Yezidi Peshmerga fighters from Kocho awaited the global face of their people.



 Nadia was overcome with emotion after meeting a relative and other Yezidis



The United Nations recognized Nadia as a Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking last year. She spoke at the school where ISIS separated men to be killed and women to be sold as sex slaves



It was a sad day for many



Iraqi forces pushed ISIS out of this destructed town last week



Nadia gave one last look at her childhood village Kocho


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Ezidi women accept human rights award
Nadia Murad (C) and Lamiya Aji Bashar (R), both Kurdish women of the Ezidi faith receive their 2016 Sakharov Prize from European Parliament President Martin Schulz (L) during an award ceremony at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, Dec. 13, 2016. (Photo: Reuters)

STRASBOURG, France (Kurdistan24) – Two Yezidi (Ezidi) women kidnapped by Islamic State (IS) militants in 2014 accepted the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize on Tuesday.

Nadia Murad and Lamiya Aji Bashar were previously revealed as recipients of the award in October.

The two women were given their prize during a ceremony in Strasbourg, France on Tuesday.

Murad and Bashar are two of several thousand women who were abducted by IS and sold as sex slaves.

After IS’ emergence in Iraq in 2014, the insurgent group sought to exterminate the Ezidi population in the country.

Nearly 5,000 Ezidi men, women, and children were massacred by IS militants in Sinjar (Shingal).

Later that year, Shingal was liberated by Kurdish Peshmerga forces with the help of US-led coalition warplanes.

Murad and Bashar have since been involved in humanitarian efforts to raise awareness about the Ezidi tragedy.

Upon receiving her award, Bashar stated she wanted to be a “voice for the voiceless,” and encouraged those in attendance to support the victims still affected by the genocide.

Moreover, Murad explained IS insurgents targeted people “who stand against their ideology, and that those responsible for rights violations should be held accountable at the international level.”

“The genocide did not only consist of killings; it also sought to enslave women in a systematic manner and to take children,” Murad added.

Last year, during a UN Security Council hearing, Murad urged members to “liberate [Ezidi] areas and to eliminate the militant group.”

Additionally, earlier this month, Murad tweeted she was “not happy [with] the results but still hopeful human consciousness [would] prevail.”

The award is named after Andrei Sakharov, a dissident Soviet scientist who died in 1989, and is handed annually to those who defend human rights.


(Baxtiyar Goran contributed to this report)


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