Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Boko Haram

The kidnapping of more than 200 girls by the Islamic militant group Boko Haram is a heinous act that has galvanised the world community into action.

Boko Haram, which means "Western education is sinful", is loosely modelled on the Taliban movement in Afghanistan. The group considers all who do not follow its strict ideology as infidels, whether they are Christian or Muslim. It demands the adoption of Sharia law in all of Nigeria. The group has waged guerrilla war on the state and attacks have focussed on soft targets including children, students, teachers and other civilians.

I oppose religious fundamentalism, and in this case deplore the cowardice it represents with kidnapping of innocent school girls, as highlighted by the bizarre claim of Boko Haram’s leader to be following God’s will by threatening to the sell the girls in the market.

What is also troubling are reports from Amnesty International that Nigeria’s military had been warned of an attack on the school where the girls were abducted from but failed to act for nearly five hours.

The Nigerian government must work tirelessly to provide adequate information to the families of the abducted girls and on the authorities’ current efforts to ensure their safe release. The families – and the abducted girls, once they are freed – must be provided with adequate medical and psychological support.

This unconscionable act committed by Boko Haram, who are determined to keep these girls from getting an education, will not be tolerated by the international community who must stand as one in condemning this backward and violent worldview, while working to secure the release of the girls and bring the perpetrators to swift justice.

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