ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Solidarity with Nigeria's Schoolgirls

Poverty, inequality and poor governance have emboldened Boko Haram's barbarities.

The abduction in April by the Nigerian Islamic fundamentalist group, Boko Haram, of about 270 teenage and pre-teenage girls – a few of whom have since escaped while many are still missing – has shocked the world. The terrorist organisation has sought a hostage-swap for the release of the girls and has crudely threatened to sell them “if need be”. The Nigerian government initially showed little energy in pursuing the kidnappers and finding these girls, and the external world ignored it for long till this issue gathered momentum in the social media through anguished postings of individuals. Eventually a social media campaign – titled, “#Bringbackourgirls” – emerged which pushed this to the front pages of global media.

Boko Haram, roughly translating to “modern education – signifying fraud – is forbidden”, is a group that has focused on taking on modernity, which it considers antithetical to its interpretation of the “Islamic way of life”. A Taliban-like force that has adopted the brutal methods of a similar radical organisation, Al-Shabaab of Somalia, Boko Haram has been responsible in the past five years for deaths and casualties running into thousands. The group has sought to take on everything that it considers a symbol of “western modernity”, particularly institutions of education and health, and has sought to kill those it considers “un-Islamic”. Even after the Nigerian government belatedly launched an offensive in the northern part of the country some years ago against this group, its ability to strike and terrorise people in the impoverished north-east parts of Nigeria has remained undiminished. 

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