Muslim world should act on the Boko Haram kidnapping

By Camelia Entekhabi-Fard 

In the West, or more specifically in the United States and some European countries, when a girl goes missing it seems as if the world has come to an end and governments and rescue teams work tirelessly to find the missing persons.

I have always admired the value for life in Western cultures and the governments responsibilities towards its citizens.

In a shocking act, 276 schoolgirls were kidnapped on April 14 in Nigeria by a terror group called Boko Haram. They kidnapped the girls in the name of Allah to justify their shameful act (according to the kidnappers) and the Muslim world is yet to act. The Saudi Grand Mufti and other Muslim leaders have decried the seizure of the girls, still, nothing effective enough to resolve the issue has happened.

In a horrifying act which hasn’t happened in the history of hostage taking, a terrorist group calling themselves Muslim took the schoolgirls hostage and assaulted them because they were going to school.

The sick mind of Boko Haram

In the sick mind of Boko Haram, the girls shouldn’t get education and as punishment, according to the leader of this group, they deserve to be sold.

“While Western countries condemned the act of terrorism against schoolgirls, the Muslim word remained silent”

Camelia Entekhabi-Fard

Two of them have died from snakebites and twenty of them are critically sick, according to the latest reports.

The campaign to save the girls was launched in West when a person claiming to be Shekau, a member of Boko Haram, appeared in a video obtained by Agence-France Press saying he would sell his victims.

“I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah,” he said. “There is a market for selling humans. Allah says I should sell. He commands me to sell. I will sell women. I sell women.” The man- Shekau- said Western education is sin and girls should marry rather than to school.

It took three weeks for the Nigerian president to set up efforts to rescue the girls and publicly acknowledge the kidnappings, which still lead to nothing.

Negative image

On a trip back to New York, I read an article in the International New York Times about the abduction, it drew the interest of a passenger seated next to me who said he could not understand why Muslims are so violent.

This is how such a thing is portraying Islam in the mind and eyes of the Westerners who don’t know much about religion and Islam in particular.

I told my fellow passenger that this was not true of all Muslims since Islam in fact encourages parents to give equal opportunities to both their sons and their daughters. I told him about Muslim female’s achievements and their educational levels and the support they are receiving from their parents.

My fellow traveler shrugged his shoulders and said, “if this is what Islam is saying, why have none of the Muslim leaders expressed their disgust or anger towards this kidnapping?”

I didn’t have an answer. Maybe the Islamic world is too busy with other matters such as terrorism, corruption, war and competition among each other, so they completely forgot the fact that these 276 schoolgirls were kidnapped in the name of Islam, according to the terror group.

A nightmare

What a nightmare the parents of the children must be going through by thinking if these girls are being sexually or physically harmed and if they ever will be rescued unharmed.

U.S. officials will establish a joint coordination unit at the U.S. Embassy in Abuja where the goal will be to provide intelligence, investigations and hostage negotiation expertise. ‘The cell will include U.S. military personnel, who are expected to arrive in Nigeria in the coming days,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. Britain is sending a small team of experts to complement the U.S. team and China also offered satellite and intelligence services to aid in the search.

Boko Haram is a terrorist group with link to al-Qadea and has aimed to impose a stricter enforcement of Sharia law across Africa’s most populous nation, which is split between a majority Muslim north and a mostly Christian south.

To enforce Sharia law, Boko Haram members, overpowered security guards at an all-girls school in Chibok, yanked the girls out of bed and forced them into trucks.

While Western countries condemned the act of terrorism against schoolgirls, the Muslim word remained silent.

The U.S. first lady, Michelle Obama, tweeted a photo of herself holding a sign that read: #BringBackOurGirls.

“Our prayers are with the missing Nigerian girls and their families,” Michelle Obama said in the post.

What does the Muslim world have to say?!

 

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on May 10, 2014.

_______________________

Camelia Entekhabi-Fard is a journalist, news commentator and writer who grew up during the Iranian Revolution and wrote for leading reformist newspapers. She is also the author of Camelia: Save Yourself by Telling the Truth – A Memoir of Iran. She lives in New York City and Dubai. She can be found on Twitter: @CameliaFard

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