Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | May 9, 2014

# Bring Back Our Girls

Until recent weeks, not many of us had heard the name Abubakar Shekau — leader of Boko Haram, the terrorist group that has claimed responsibility for the abduction of 284 Nigerian schoolgirls. In a move that stunned the world on April 14, Shekau and his minions kidnapped 276 girls from a school in Chibok and, shortly thereafter, another 8 girls. This is but one of the latest evils perpetrated against children by this Nigeria-based Islamic terrorist group.

As if fools and idiots were lacking on the world stage, Shekau forced his way onto the pages of the Playbill and assumed his position in front of a global audience. And he could care less about rotten tomatoes. A Boko Haram intermediary said that Shekau “is the craziest of all the commanders. He really believes it is OK to kill anyone who disagrees with him.” For an encore performance, Boko Haram slaughtered more than 300 people in a Nigerian village near the Cameroon border. No wonder the words Boko Haram have become a synonym for fear in Nigeria.

Why school girls? The answer may lie, in part, in the meaning of the words Boko Haram. This Arabic-Hausa compound phrase conveys a range of ideas from “books are forbidden” to “Western education is forbidden” or “is a sin.” A man claiming to be Shekau said in a recently released video that girls should be married by age 12, not go to school. “I abducted your girls,” he boasted. “I will sell them in the market, by Allah. There is a market for selling humans. Allah says I should sell. He commands me to sell. I will sell women. I sell women.”

As if to add insult to injury, the thickset bearded psychopath said, “Why is everybody making noise just because I took some girls who were in western education anyway?” In the mind of Shekau, it’s a sin for Muslim girls to get an education but it’s ok for him to kidnap and sell these young girls into forced marriages or slavery where they will lose their innocence and be repeatedly overpowered and raped. This is the reasoning of a man whose impoverished worldview has no regard for the sanctity of human life.

Bring Back Our Girls
Acts of violence like those committed by Boko Haram in Nigeria are no longer just some unfortunate regional problem. The kidnapping of the schoolgirls has stirred global outrage. Parents, women, and girls around the planet are standing in solidarity with the kidnapped Nigerian students. Using the hashtag Bring Back Our Girls, people around the globe have let their voices be heard. Among them, Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani girl who was shot at point-blank range by the Taliban and survived.

Let’s pray that Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan indeed has some good luck in finding “our” girls. Perhaps he will finally deal decisively with Shekau and Boko Haram with the assistance of other nations who have offered their expertise and intelligence. No evil that seeks to destroy children, a nation’s most precious resource and hope for the future, should be allowed to commit acts of terror with impunity. #BringBackOurGirls


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