A 27-minute video was released Monday by Boko Haram, the terrorist group claiming responsibility for the abducting of more than 250 Nigerian school girls from the northern Nigeria town of Chibok on April 13. In the video released by the French news agency Agence France-Presse, allegedly shows Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, claiming that the girls have converted to Islam (according to many news outlets) and says he is prepared to exchange the girls for militant prisoners. More than 100 girls can be seen wearing full-length hijabs and reciting what sounds like the first verse of the Qur’an. Three of the missing girls are also shown speaking on camera.
If nothing else proves that Boko Haram is basically Nigeria’s version of the Taliban, I don’t know what does. These cryptic videos, the demands, the forced conversion…Like their Pakistani and Afghan counterparts, they oppose education for girls and would rather marry and impregnate them instead, for Allah’s sake.
Shekau claims in the video that he is willing to release the girls, if Boko Haram prisoners are released. “These girls have become Muslims,” Shekau is quoted as saying in the video, according to reports. “We will never release them until after you release our brethren. You are making so much noise about Chibok, Chibok, Chibok. Only Allah knows how many women we are holding, the infidels who Allah commands us to hold.” The militant leader said that Boko Haram’s brothers in arms had been held in prison for up to five years and suggested that the girls would be released if the fighters were freed. Who knew that there were even Boko Haram members who were imprisoned? Who has them in custody?
The biggest benefit of this video is proof of life. We know that at least 100 of the 200+ missing girls are alive. However, we don’t know when this video was taken or if these are truly the missing Nigerian school girls. And more importantly, has there been any Nigerian family reactions? Have any of the family members recognized their daughters from this tape?
What we seem to be missing here is this–this is not a kidnapping. This is the typical way of Jihad. Boko Haram are not holding these girls for ransom and they are not asking for financial compensation. These terrible people see these girls as their property. According to reports, these Christian girls may be raped, converted to Islam and then, like the Muslims girls, “married” to one of their captors. Some may be trafficked into the sex trade, which is pandemic throughout Africa and the Muslim Middle East. This isn’t the first nor the last time something so terrible has happened to a considerable number innocent women.
In 1971, hundreds of thousands of women were raped during the Bangladesh Liberation War. Pakistani Muslim soldiers publicly and repeatedly gang-raped and tortured Muslim (future Bangladeshi) women. These women became known as “Birangona,” or “brave women.” Many of them killed themselves or, if pregnant, their families killed them in honor killings. Forty years later, those who survived are still traumatized and shamed by what was done to them. Many were humiliated by their relatives, rejected by their husbands. Similar incidents happened in 1992 to Muslim girls in Algeria and in 2004 in Sudan with Black African Muslims.
What is going to happen to these Nigerian girls? Will they ever be “found?” Will they be regarded as brave women or war heroes? Or will they be forgotten when the next viral outrage happens?
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