Kidnapping of Nigerian Schoolgirls Sparks Worldwide Outcry

“If we remain silent then this will spread, this will happen more and more and more,” stated Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani school girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban for advocating girls’ education. She lived, but had to endure many hours of surgery and rehab in the UK.

She is speaking of the more than 200 Nigerian girls who were kidnapped from their schools in Borno, Nigeria. Most were between the ages of 16-18, reports the BBC.

It is said that they were kidnapped by Boko Haram militants who were wearing military gear and convinced the girls that they were trying to protect them from an oncoming attack. The girls were in the middle of taking their final year exams when the attack occurred.

The by Islamist Boko Haram group, which loosely translates into “Western education is forbidden” in the local Hausa tongue, is threatening to sell all of the girls into the sex trade or as wives to the group’s soldiers, says the BBC.

The leader of Boko Haram believes that the girls should have already been married and not receiving an education.

Many around the world have questioned why it took Nigeria so long to do something about the kidnapped girls. Nigerian government has since offered a $300,000 reward for information leading to the kidnapped girls. The United States, Great Britain, France, and China have all pledged help and support in finding the missing girls. The BBC reports:

Former UN chief Kofi Annan, also appealed for action. He criticised both the Nigerian government and other African nations for not reacting faster to the kidnapping, and called on them to use whatever was at their disposal to help free the girls.

Boko Haram has pledged its allegiance to al Qaeda though they are not officially franchised with them, reports Khaled Wassef for CBS News. They have flown relatively under the radar as far as terrorist groups are concerned. They have since released propaganda videos claiming that they will sell the girls and are now more prominent on Jihad websites and forums.

Started in 2002 by Mohammad Yusuf,  an Islamic cleric in Maiduguri, the capital of the northeastern state of Borno, Boko Haram is now a mainstream terrorist group in northern Nigeria, reports CBC News.

In the beginning, it was a social movement, with Boko Haram claiming the widespread poverty and dire schooling in the nation’s largely Muslim north was the result of federal neglect. They also resent the long years of British rule in the past and see the new federal government as being just as bad.

Boko Haram has arisen “in a historically marginalized region of Nigeria,” says Douek. “The Borno state is the poorest region in Nigeria, and receives the least government money.”