You might have seen them on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook - #Bring Back Our Girls or #Real Men Don't Buy Girls. If you are like me, earlier this week you might have been looking to find out what this is all about and why it has caused such an uproar. I will explain the situation to the best of my abilities in this blog. This recent viral hashtag is a result of the kidnapping of 300 girls from a school in Chilbok, Borno Nigeria. The group that has claimed to have committed this act of terror calls themselves Boko Haram. This phrase is from the local Huasa language of North Central Africa and loosely translates into Western education is a sin.
To understand the story better, it is important to know some background information on the Boko Haram. They were established in 2002 by Mohammad Yusuf, an Islamist. They were at first focused on social change and blamed the poverty of the north on government neglect. The group believed itself to be discriminated against because of its Muslim beliefs as opposed to the southern region of Nigeria that is predominately Christian. In 2009, Yusuf was taken by authorities and was executed on video; this footage would later go viral and cause the Boko Haram group to step up their campaign.
The now more aggressive Boko Haram group went on to commit extreme acts of terrorism in Nigeria. These acts ranged from an explosion at a bus terminal in Abuja, Nigeria that killed 71 people and injured 124 to the most recent kidnapping of 300 female students. Though the group has a strong hatred against the Christian south, most of its victims have been Muslims from the north. The reason for this is that the group believes the traditional Muslim leadership is corrupt and therefore wants to replace it. The main goal of the group is to establish an Islamic state in the north under Shariah Law.
Shariah Law is the extreme, conservative law of Islam. Examples of these laws include: theft being punishable by amputation, women not being allowed to drive, a woman who has been raped cannot testify against her rapist in court, and so on.
Back to the kidnapping of 300 female students, we can see how the Boko Haram group would commit such an act as this. They are extremists rebelling against the ways of the west and trying to keep their religious ideals alive. In fact, a saying of theirs is Government of the people by the people and for the people will be destroyed and replaced by government of Allah by Allah and for Allah. One of the issues with the Nigerian government addressing the Boko Haram group is that whenever they have a lead witness that can help, the witness will often turn up dead the next day. This has led to the government attacking and killing many innocent people in an attempt to stop the group, leading to an increase of participation by citizens in the Boko Haram.
The girls that were kidnapped ranged from the ages of 16 19 years old and were studying science courses, law courses, and more. The students all gathered at a school in Chibok, Borno to take their final exams and it was then they were attacked. It is said that 53 girls have escaped the group but 276 still remain hostages. The Boko Haram group has said that the girls will be sold into the marketplace and as wives to the jihadist members in their group.
As a result, the United States, Great Britain, and other countries have begun discussion on how to aid the Nigerian government to bring back these girls. People all over the world have begun to post pictures, tweets, and more on social websites to get the word out about this terrible incident. Celebrities such as Justin Timberlake and Ashton Kutcher are using their fame to help get the word out too. It is important at this time that we all come together no matter who we are or where we are from, to help this cause in any way possible. Every effort no matter how small makes a difference, I am just a college student at DePaul University writing a blog, but I am giving what I can to this cause and I ask for everyone who reads this to please keep the word going and keep the spirit of #BringBackOurGirls alive during this difficult time.
My thoughts and prayers are out there for these victims and there families. I look forward to the day our girls come back and to the day the Boko Haram is just a history lesson. Thank you for reading my blog and please spread the word.
Josue A. Ortiz