Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with Iraqi Yazidi human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Nadia Murad of Iraq while he hosts her and other survivors of religious persecution from 17 countries around the world in the Oval Office at the White House July 17, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

WATCH: Amid Extreme Anti-Refugee Push, Trump Displays Neither Interest Nor Knowledge of Asylum Seekers' Plight in Oval Office Meeting

"Donald Trump says that he cares about combating sex trafficking, but he couldn't even manage to have a coherent three-minute conversation with a trafficking survivor and global leader on ending sexual violence."

Julia Conley

Amid outrage this week over President Donald Trump's racist rhetoric and policies regarding asylum seekers and immigrants, critics expressed shock on Friday over two viral videos of the president meeting with several refugees from all over the world in the Oval Office.

One observer on social media accused Trump of displaying a "sociopathic inability to empathize" while another said "he couldn't even manage to have a coherent three-minute conversation" with a Nobel laureate.

Watch:

Trump appeared unaware of the plights of refugees like Nobel Peace Prize winner Nadia Murad, who has campaigned for human rights following her escape from ISIS captivity in Iraq, and Mohib Ullah, one of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims who were forced to leave Myanmar.  

Murad explained how she and thousands of other women were abducted by ISIS when the group took control of parts of Iraq in 2014. The president has spoken frequently about his alleged defeat of ISIS in Iraq, but as Murad explained, "it's not about ISIS" any longer.

"We cannot go back because the Kurdish government and the Iraqi government, they are fighting each other over who will control my area," Murad said. "And we cannot go back if we cannot protect our dignity, our families."

"I hope you can call or anything to the Iraqi and Kurdistan [governments]," she added, telling Trump that French President Emmanuel Macron has been vocal in his support for the Yazidis and their desire to return home.

Murad also spoke about what drove tens of thousands of Yazidis to seek asylum in Germany, as thousands of refugees are currently hoping to be welcomed into the United States while the Trump administration moves to eliminate asylum rights and considers cutting the number of refugee admissions to zero next year.   

"After 2014 about 95,000 Yazidis, they immigrated to Germany through a very dangerous way," Murad said. "Not because they want to be refugees, but we cannot find a safe place to live. All this happened to me. They killed my mum, they killed my six brothers."

On social media, critics expressed shock at Trump's apparent lack of knowledge and interest in the experiences of refugees around the world, even as he enacts xenophobic policies to keep them out of the United States.

Some noted that Trump appeared engaged in his conversation with Murad mostly when he inquired about her Nobel Peace Prize, an award that Trump has said he hopes to win and which Murad was awarded for her work combating sexual violence around the world.

After speaking with Murad, Trump turned to Ullah, a member of the Rohingya religious group which was subjected to genocide in Myanmar in recent years. Ullah asked how the U.S. will help the Rohingya return to the country.

"Good afternoon, Mr. President," said Ullah. "I am a Rohingya from Bangladesh refugee camp. So most of the Rohingya refugees are waiting to go back home as quickly as possible. So what is the plan to help us?"

After Trump asked Ullah what country he was from, Ambassador for Religious Freedom Sam Brownback quickly explained that the Rohingya have been expelled from Myanmar, but the president offered no answer to Ullah's question.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Architect of Texas Abortion Ban Takes Aim at LGBTQ+ Rights While Urging Reversal of Roe

"Make no mistake, the goal is to force extreme, outdated, religious-driven values on all of us through the courts."

Jessica Corbett ·


Ahead of Canadian Election, Bernie Sanders and Rashida Tlaib Endorse NDP

"Bernie, you have fought courageously for public healthcare, affordable medication, making the rich pay their fair share, and tackling the climate crisis," said party leader Jagmeet Singh. "We're doing the same here."

Jessica Corbett ·


US Urged to End Drone Strikes After Pentagon Says Killing 10 Afghan Civilians Was 'Horrible Mistake'

"That was not a 'mistake,'" said journalist Anand Giridharadas. "War crimes are not oopsies."

Brett Wilkins ·


40+ NYC Activists Arrested for Protests Against Banks Fueling Climate Emergency

"We're sending a message loud and clear that the little action that politicians and greenwashing CEOs have taken so far does not begin to deal with the magnitude of this crisis."

Jessica Corbett ·


FDA Panel Recommends Pfizer Booster Shots for People 65+ and Especially Vulnerable

The scientific advisory committee voted down a recommendation for other adults.

Common Dreams staff ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo