In Nigeria, an Islamic terrorist group called Boko Haram has engaged in mass abduction of hundreds of school girls. The Nigerian government has said that it is searching diligently for the missing girls, and has accepted an offer from the U.S. government for military help in the search process.
Boko Haram, which translates into “Western education is a sin,” seeks to impose strict Sharia law in Nigeria. The group has attacked and bombed churches and schools and opposes the education of girls, saying they should “get married” instead. The head of the group says it will sell the abducted girls.
Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country. It is the latest battleground in the war on girls, and education of girls, by some radical Islamic groups. Boko Haram’s abduction of the Nigerian girls is no different in kind from the Taliban’s attacks on Malala Yousafzai, the courageous young Pakistani who insisted on receiving an education and advocating for education of girls despite edicts to the contrary. Clearly, there is a strain of radical Islam that insists on subjugating women, leaving them ignorant and uneducated, and relegating them to submissive roles. We all need to stoutly resist the Boko Harams of the world and their repressive ideologies, and leadership on the issue should come from within the Islamic community itself.
Nigeria is far away, and the abductions have occurred in remote areas — but that doesn’t make what Boko Haram is doing any less meaningful for the rest of the world. If humanity is to progress, it can only be by ensuring that freedom and liberty is available for everyone. If Nigerian girls lose their right to an education due to Boko Haram’s terrorism, that result can only embolden other radical Islamic sects to seek the same retreat from modernity in their countries — and ultimately we may find ourselves facing a repressive world that seeks to sharply limit the freedoms of us all. We need to draw a line, take a stand, and help the Nigerian government find the missing girls and defeat Boko Haram.