223 Nigerian Schoolgirls Abducted: Will Religious Fundamentalism Always Obstruct Progress?

Posted on May 5, 2014 in GlobeScope

By Mayank Jain: 

On a normal workday, Nigerian schoolgirls were busy taking lessons for life when religious militants barged into an all-girls school by pressurizing the guards and forcefully put them in trucks and disappeared into dense forests in the Cameroon. The number of girls originally abducted is 276 but some of them managed to escape from the trucks. Now, 223 girls are still believed to be with their captors.

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The organization which has reportedly done this is known as Boko Haram, a Nigerian Muslim militant group which is allegedly linked to al-Qaida. The organization follows the motto: “western education is sinful”, and they are clearly acting on the same, repeatedly becoming an obstacle on the way of development and education of children.

The attack on the schoolgirls is not just to spread terror, but another attempt on vindication that takes the form of bashing ‘western values’ which apparently include education, marrying by choice and wearing what a person wants rather than follow customs that hold people back.

Protest against the attack has garnered huge support from around the world lately with United States leading the front in building pressure on Nigeria to get the girls back. #BringBackOurGirls is trending on Twitter. The African Union has also brought up the issue and asked the Nigerian government to step up the action in bringing the girls back.

Can you imagine if 234 girls were abducted from their school in Paris or in Chicago? This would be a nightmare; this would be an uproar,” Nicole Lee, the president of TransAfrica is quoted to have said at the Washington demonstration. TransAfrica is a foreign policy organization. “… People would care, people would take action and we would want the same for the girls in Nigeria.”

Religious fundamentalism has always been wary of education and self-reliance of people which might turn their support away since education gives the discerning ability which makes it impossible for girls to be led on the wrong path of ‘magic’ and the supernatural, which these groups propose so vehemently.

Another theme that these attacks on education seem to bring up, is that of marriage of women which seems to be the sole proprietary decision of these organizations. They take the responsibility upon themselves to propagate child marriage and relentlessly abduct girls to marry them before they even learn to stand on their own feet.

Independence and free thinking that reasons out and seeks logic is the biggest threat of such extremism. The abduction is just one of many instances where the group has been involved in suppressing the rights of children and attacking their ability to grow up into free thinking radical adults who aren’t bound by religious dogma or rudimentary traditions that don’t serve good to anyone.

The Nigerian President is expected to deliver an address on Sunday and hopefully the international pressure will make the mission to bring the girls back successful. Even then, the ideological turmoil that the world finds itself in, has just begun.

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