The FCB Foundation welcomes human rights activist Nadia Murad

The activist from Iraq is received by Josep Maria Bartomeu and Jordi Cardoner, and meets some of the players as part of the club’s commitments towards women’s rights

Nadia Murad, a 23-year-old Iraqi woman who was kidnapped and enslaved by the Islamic State, has become a global icon in the defence of the rights of women and children, and was invited by the FCB Foundation to get to know FC Barcelona.

Murad attended the match against Athletic Club at the Camp Nou on Wednesday, where she was received by president Josep Maria Bartomeu and vice-president Jordi Cardoner. Both conveyed the importance that the club is emphasising on gender projects and initiatives. They also spoke about how the Foundation continues to work to use sport as a vehicle for reducing violence and aggressive behavior among children and young people around the world.

On Thursday morning Murad, accompanied by FCB Foundation vice-president Maria Teixidor and the director general Maria Vallès, visited Ciutat Esportiva, where she met Leo Messi and Luis Suárez, to whom she explained her story of overcoming an awful struggle and thanked them for their contribution to building a more just society. Later, she visited the training of the women's football team. After the session Murad shared time with the players and spoke of her admiration for the club. Together they exchanged views on the rights of women and the importance football can have as a tool to promote peace and harmony, especially in conflict areas.

Nadia Murad belongs to the Yazidi community, a religious minority based in northern Iraq under the control of the Islamic State. Nadia was the victim, along with many other women, of abuses by soldiers of the Islamic State after they began to control Kochi in August 2014. They killed a part of her family and kidnapped and sold her as a sex slave. From there, she suffered rape and torture until she managed to escape her captors. She currently lives in Germany.

Since her release Nadia works for the United Nations Security Council on trafficking and slavery of people. Her decision to take legal action against IS commanders worldwide, which promoted the market for slaves in Syria and Iran, have put her in the spotlight of her former tormentors and is threatened with death.

The international community has lauded her and she is being recognised by the highest international authorities. Last December, she  was awarded the 2016 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought awarded by the European Parliament and on Wednesday she received the Prize for Peace in Barcelona awarded by the United Nations Association in Spain, an event attended by FCB Foundation vice-president Maria Teixidor and executive director Nacho Mestre representing the foundation.

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Statements from Maria Teixidor

“Nadia’s story of overcoming (her struggle) is inspiring, we must be aware that in many parts of the world the situation of women is dramatic. FCB Foundation is bound to educational values to ensure that children grow up in a just and egalitarian society. We want to convey this message globally because Barça is a speaker for situations that need to be reported as such.”

Statements from Nadia Murad

“I am very happy to see that the women here have the same rights as the men and they can play football normally. Also, the players of the first team are reference points for the youngsters across the world and Messi in particular is a very special player. He has changed the world, he has made it more cheerful. I ask the young people to avoid the path of the Islamic State and do something to make this world a better place.”