MPAC Condemns Boko Haram’s Kidnapping of Nigerian Schoolgirls

May 6, 2014

The Muslim Public Affairs Council today condemned the repugnant actions of Boko Haram, which claimed responsibility for kidnapping over 300 teenage schoolgirls from a school in Nigeria three weeks ago. Boko Haram, which translates as “Western education is sinful,” has once again violated core Islamic teachings that value all human life as sacred, prohibit depriving people of their basic freedoms, and mandate seeking knowledge as an obligatory duty of every Muslim.

SEE: “'I Will Sell Them,' Boko Haram Leader Says of Kidnapped Nigerian Girls” (CNN)

In a video message released yesterday, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau described the girls as “slaves,” and said “I abducted your girls. 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.”

“Boko Haram has committed a heinous act that defies all faith, reason and humanity,” said Haris Tarin, Director of MPAC’s Washington, DC, office. “Their ugly distortion of Islam to attempt to justify their evil actions is outrageous and must be challenged. In the Quran, God calls on us to liberate those who are oppressed and enslaved and that is exactly what we must come together to do now in response to this act of extremism.”

Nigeria's police report that 276 remain in captivity and 53 successfully escaped. Reports have also surfaced that some of the girls have been forced to marry their abductors who allegedly paid a bride price of $12 and the Christian girls have been forced to convert to Islam, which is a direct violation of the Quranic verse which guarantees freedom of religion: "Let there be no compulsion in matters of faith" (2:256).

Since they were abducted in the middle of the night from a boarding school in Chibok in the north-eastern Borno state, the Nigerian government has failed to act except when faced with international attention and criticism. Hundreds of Nigerian women marched on parliament over the weekend, and are planning a “million-woman march” today to call on the government to find and rescue the girls and punish their abductors. People around the world have sprung into action denouncing the kidnapping through the #BringBackOurGirls social media campaign, which is trending globally.

Secretary of State John Kerry, who is visiting Africa, said that the United States “will do everything possible to support the Nigerian government to return these young women to their homes and to hold the perpetrators to justice.” Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton posted the following on Twitter, “Access to education is a basic right and an unconscionable reason to target innocent girls... We must stand up to terrorism.”

How women fare correlates directly with how society fares overall. A school should be a place of refuge for children, which makes these kidnappings have the compounding effect of making young girls feel unsafe to even leave their homes. In far too many places around the world, women are being disproportionately abused using outdated rulings and ages-old customs. In an effort to address this injustice, MPAC released "Abusing Women, Abusing Islam,” a paper that exposes how patriarchal and distorted interpretations of sharia have been used to subjugate women and rob them of their fundamental rights in some situations.

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