Over 200 schoolgirls have been abducted from a boarding school in Nigeria. Their crime: they wanted to be educated and were in school for that prupose.
It’s unbelievable that there are individuals or groups in the 21-century who oppose education for girls. Their simple but outmoded explanation is that girls are fit enough only to cook and bear children. Boko Haram, the group responsible for undertaking the abduction, are free to hold their antiquated views, but they have no right to force their ideology on those who choose to be educated.
I find it particularly offensive and insulting when such atrocities are conducted in the name of religion, in this case Islam. Boko Haram, which is linked to al-Qaeda, seeks to overthrow the government and create an Islamic state. It has killed thousands of people in Nigeria through a wave of bombings and assassinations since 2009. Recent Boko Haram’s reign of terror includes killings of more than 30 people in Borno and 122 in the central city of Jos.
The Taliban in Pakistan and Boko Haram in Nigeria have both propounded their evil theories based on religion. The group, which has so far killed 1,000 people in Nigeria, intends to continue its campaign of violence until sharia law rules the country.
“We will consider negotiation only when we have brought the government to their knees,” the spokesman, Abu Qaqa, told the Guardian newspaper in a first major interview with a western newspaper. “Once we see that things are being done according to the dictates of Allah, and our members are released [from prison], we will only put aside our arms – but we will not lay them down. You don’t put down your arms in Islam, you only put them aside.”
It is unfortunate that it is becoming fashionable to justify actions and agendas of these politically motivated malcontents of society. This is their personal fight with their governments and they are misleading Muslims and non-Muslims alike by bringing in religion to justify their vendetta. I don’t know what edition of the Quran they have been reading but certainly the Qurans that majority of Muslims read does not advocate killings, murders and maiming people.
A wise man – also a Muslim – once said if you have a boy and a girl, and if you can afford to educate one of them only, then you should educate the girl because a girl is the centre of a family. She is the one who nurtures and brings up the children, installing in them honesty, character and wisdom. A mother provides basic education to children and is their first teacher. She has a pivotal role in society. Islam teaches generosity, kindness and humanity, not killings, revenge and atrocities that we see conducted in the name of religion.
Another group that has launched its reign of terror in Kenya and Somalia is the militant Al Shabaab. Kenyan soldiers, aided by several other countries which also included Somalia, pursued Al Shabaab who were alleged to have kidnapped foreign tourists and aid workers from Kenya in October 2011. Al Shabaab has retaliated by undertaking several raids in Kenya and Somalia.
One of the most recent attacks was on an upscale shopping mall in Nairobi in which 39 people were killed, including relative of Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta. In Mogadishu, the Somali capital, Al Shabaab launched an assault on the parliament recently, killing 10 people.
Al Shabaab spokesman told Reuters: “The so-called Somali parliament is a military zone. Our fighters are there to carry out a holy operation. We shall issue a comprehensive report after the conclusion of the operation.”
Somalia’s prime minister, Abdiweli Ahmed is reported to have issued a statement in which he said: “The terrorists have once again shown that they are against all Somalis, by killing our innocent brothers and sisters. These cowardly, despicable actions are not a demonstration of the true Islamic faith.
“This attack will not deter the government of Somalia from continuing to hunt down and destroy the terrorists and build a peaceful Somalia that terrorists will never rule over.”
As the saying goes, when elephants fight, it’s the grass that suffers. Whether it’s Boko Haram or Al Shabaab, when they attack, it’s the innocent civilians who suffer and get killed. Both groups are composed of misguided individuals who use religion to further their political goals. Terrorism has no justification and all peace loving nations should join in an effort to curb it. It’s a coordinated effort internationally that would defeat terrorism. It is our hope and prayers that over 200 innocent girls are returned safely to their parents soon.