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“Bring Back Our Girls” -€œ Neutrality toward injustice is the side of the oppressor

May 08, 2014



Guest Contributor, Saajida Malvinah writes about the abduction of young Nigerian schoolgirls by terrorists and reminds us of the words of Desmond Tutu:  “If you are neutral in situation of injustice you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”


A militant and terrorist organization based in the northeast of Nigeria, north Cameroon and Niger, allegedly founded in 2002 is wreaking havoc in the name of Islam. The Congregation of the People of Tradition for Proselytism and Jihad, better known as Boko Haram has stepped up its campaign against Western education, which it believes corrupts the moral values of Muslims, especially girls, by attacked two boarding schools – in Yobe in March and in Chibok in April 2014.


Its’ alleged members abducted more than 200 schoolgirls during the Chibok raid, saying they would treat them as slaves and marry them off. Another 26 girls were allegedly kidnapped on Monday night, bringing the total number to 235.


On Monday night Abu Bakr Shekauv, the leader of Boko Haram released a video message in which he justified the kidnappings and said: “By Allah, I will sell them at the market place.” Boko Haram members’ allege the girls were kidnapped because education for girls is a no-no.  And as mentioned in the video: “a girl of 9 or 12 should get married and women are slaves and property of men.”


The president of Nigeria Goodluck Jonathan has come under fire in his country for not doing enough. He announced that the whereabouts of the girls are still unknown. Boko Haram will soon make an appeal via Al Jazeera for the ransom of money in exchange for the freedom of the girls and has denied media reports that 2 girls have died due to snakebites. Kenya has just accepted U.S assistance and a team of experts and hostage negotiators to try to resolve this matter. US-based Boko Haram analyst Jacob Zenn says in some cases there have been “tit-for-tat trade offs”, with both the militants and security forces releasing those in their custody.


The education of girls is not forbidden in Islam as the first verse ever to be revealed was: IQRA – “read”. The example of the wife of the Prophet (pbuh), Ayesha (ra) was the most knowledgeable in fiqh as well as medicine in the city of Madinah.  How then can Boko Haram claim western education is wrong, and vow to continue kidnapping girls who attend school?


Women are not the property if men and we are not slaves of men. The ayah in the Holy Qur’an mentioned by Allah is clear: “I never fail to reward any worker among you for any work, be you male or female. You are of one another” – (Surah 3 verse 195). A woman does not belong to a man.  During the time of ignorance prior to Islam, women were regarded as the property of men, but this was revoked after the coming of Islam.


As South Africans, and more so Muslims, as we share the same religion as that of the alleged kidnappers, we cannot remain silent against this oppression. We need to be at the forefront of holding demonstrations and pickets etc.


Today, 8 May 2014, a demonstration will be held from Sandton City shopping centre in Johannesburg to the Nigerian embassy. Following global protests under the banner “Bring back our girls” activists will be marching to the Nigerian Consulate in Illovo, Sandton, to strengthen the number of voices growing internationally.


Rally organiser, actor and activist Rosie Motene said protest action was necessary after inaction ensued when a similar incident happened in Congo. “We are tired of the rest of the world being silent about such an important issue. It’s important to understand that this isn’t just a Nigerian issue, it’s a terrorism issue,” said Motene.


As citizens living in a free country, we should use social networks like Facebook, Twitter etc. to express our anger at this heinous crime committed by Boko Haram. 


We as South Africans have little or no concern for our fellow Africans. It’s as though we have a superiority complex to fellow African states, and the media who report very little on the happenings in Africa enhances this. Write to your local media requesting greater coverage on Africa and more so on the kidnappings, as well disgust at this issue. 


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