A sad story continues to unfold in Nigeria.
The extremist group Boko Haram kidnapped 219 schoolgirls there back in April. They are reportedly keeping the girls until some jailed members of their group are released. They recently threatened to sell some of the girls as child brides -- a common practice in Nigeria -- if the men aren’t freed soon.
It’s a difficult story for the international media to cover in any kind of a meaningful way.
The girls were abducted from a school in the remote town of Chibok in the northeast corner of Nigeria. It’s a tough place to access, even in this age.
And Boko Haram hasn’t been sitting idly by as it guards its valuable captives. The group was blamed for bombing a major bridge on a highway in the area that further limits access to its base camps. It’s believed that at least some of the girls are in the Sambisa Forest, a 600-square kilometre former game reserve.
The group’s name actually means “Western education is sinful,” a sad indictment of their beliefs and goals.
In a video released on Sunday, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau again demanded that Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan trade the girls for the captive gang members.
“Nigerians are saying ‘Bring Back Our Girls,’ and we are telling Jonathan to bring back our arrested warriors, our army,” he said.
The president has so far declined to make the trade, even as the campaign intensifies.
Boko Haram claimed responsibility for a bombing at the biggest shopping mall in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, killing at least 21 people. They also said they were responsible for a pair of bombings in Lagos.
This is another sad perversion of spirituality, something no religion has been immune to over the centuries. More times than not, the violence can be traced to either efforts to proselytize or even eliminate another religion or attempts to maintain the status of the existing male power structure.
If you think this is a uniquely Islamic practice, I would like to draw your attention to the Crusades.
Nigeria is a nation of about 170 million people, almost equally split between Christians in the south and Muslims in the north. Not surprisingly, that has led to some ugly confrontations over the years with massacres on both sides.
Boko Haram is a relatively new addition to the conflict, having begun in 2002. They are considered so radical that even some Muslim leaders have rejected them, which is not a surprise considered the kidnapping of the school girls. They have launched dozens of significant attacks in recent years.
Boko Haram are not people that anyone can bargain with or get through to. They are hardcore radicals content only with our deaths or their own. In a perfect world they would be gone and the girls would be back, an equation that seems almost impossible to work out.
This is a scary, scary world sometimes.
Prince Albert Daily Herald