The Jakarta Post
There can be no sane people, regardless of their religion, who will not be shocked to hear the reason the Islamic group Boko Haram's leader, Abubakar Shekau, gave for kidnapping 276 Nigerian schoolgirls. Citing, wrongly, Islamic teaching as his excuse, he will sell the girls just like animals.
It is shameful and even sinful when we, citizens of the world, simply watch the misery of the students without doing anything to help secure their release. Regardless of our differences, no one has the right to punish or to stop children and young people from pursuing their education to realize their dreams.
The abductions are a barbaric act and only barbarians can tolerate such horrific abuse of innocent children who are only seeking knowledge to make themselves better citizens of Nigeria. The leader of Boko Haram ' meaning 'Western education is sinful' ' believes that it is God who has ordered him to do whatever he likes with the children.
'I abducted the girls. I will sell them in the market as decreed by Allah,' Shekau said in a videotaped message. The Nigerian rebel easily cited religious reasons to justify his evil acts.
Kidnappings are not uncommon in the Africa's largest economy. It seems that President Goodluck Jonathan did not realize how severe was the suffering of the girls when they were abducted from their school while taking their exams in Chibok village, in Borno state last month.
Only after international condemnation and street demonstrations poured in did President Jonathan tell his nation that he would take all necessary actions to return the young women to their parents and schools, while also acknowledging that the whereabouts of the abductees remained unknown.
In 2012, a Taliban gunman shot 15-year-old Pakistani girl Malala Yousafzai in the head because of her outspokenness against the Taliban who threatened children, especially girls, who went to school. Taliban-like groups such as the Nigerian terrorists want the world to return to the stone-age era.
In a speech in Peshawar in September 2008, Malala said, 'How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education?'
Malala's message needs to be conveyed to all people who use their power to block children's access to education. It is saddening that religion is misused to terrorize people and to kill the future leaders of the world.
Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim-majority nation, has allocated a huge budget to realize the education-for-all program. In fact Islam teaches Muslims to pursue education 'even up to China'.