More than 200 Nigerian girls abducted from a government school will be sold into slavery, according to a videotape from the Islamist terrorist group that captured them. Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau taunted Nigerians and parents by telling them that the girls had become the “property” of Allah, presumably because of their Western education, and that he plans to sell his “slaves” in the market:
Shekau’s videotaped taunting of Nigerian government officials has triggered demonstrations in Nigeria, Europe and in at least four U.S. cities.
“I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah,” Reuters quoted Shekau as saying, chuckling as he stands in front of an armored personnel carrier with two masked militants wielding AK-47s on either side of him.
“Allah has instructed me to sell them. They are his property and I will carry out his instructions,” he said.
The video emerged days after reports emerged last week that some of girls had been forced to marry their abductors — who paid a nominal bride price of $12 — and that others have been taken to neighboring Cameroon and Chad. NBC News could not verify those reports.
The name “Boko Haram” loosely translates to “Western education is forbidden.” The group is responsible for numerous bloodthirsty attacks on Christians in Nigeria, attempting to drive out Christianity and Western values, and replace them with shari’a law and their own rule. Nigerians had long complained about the ineffectiveness and even hostility from the Nigerian government toward Christians demanding a defense against this ongoing attempt at religious cleansing, but until this abduction, most nations had paid little attention to Boko Haram. The capture of young girls and the threat to sell them into slavery has put the government of Goodluck Jonathan under a harsh international spotlight, and perhaps will result in a larger and more effective effort against Boko Haram as a result.
The AP’s Michelle Faul puts the number of those abducted at 276, and reports on the story of one girl fortunate enough to escape:
The girls in the school dorm could hear the sound of gunshots from a nearby town. So when armed men in uniforms burst in and promised to rescue them, at first they were relieved.
“Don’t worry, we’re soldiers,” one 16-year-old girl recalls them saying. “Nothing is going to happen to you.”
The gunmen commanded the hundreds of students at the Chibok Government Girls Secondary School to gather outside. The men went into a storeroom and removed all the food. Then they set fire to the room.
“They … started shouting, `Allahu Akhbar,’ (God is great),” the 16-year-old student said. “And we knew.”
What they knew was chilling: The men were not government soldiers at all. They were members of the ruthless Islamic extremist group called Boko Haram. They kidnapped the entire group of girls and drove them away in pickup trucks into the dense forest.
The Nigerian government says they will have to negotiate with Boko Haram to get the girls back, but that sounds like a rather weak response. Boko Haram wants to eradicate Christianity from Nigeria and impose shari’a law, not launch a political party or acquire a traditional ransom. The “sale” of these slaves isn’t a fundraiser, after all, but a show of power and ruthlessness.
In the meantime, the cause has gone global. People around the world are pressuring their own governments to find ways to rescue the girls. Perhaps this is a moment for people to see past the platitudes of moral equivalency:
Let’s hope that this pressure convinces governments to take Boko Haram as a serious threat.
Update: The school was a government school, not a parochial school. I’ve fixed the first paragraph.