WASHINGTON — While the Western world uses the hashtag “#BringBackOurGirls” to protest the abduction and kidnapping of around 200 Nigerian schoolgirls, their Islamist kidnappers have issued their demands.
Reuters reported that Boko Haram, a Nigerian rebel group that murders civilians, Christians and imposes strict Islamic sharia law, announced that they would exchange the schoolgirls for prisoners.
Their leader, Abubakar Shekau, made the announcement via video and in the background were about 100 schoolgirls praying. The video, lasting about seventeen minutes, was reported by the French news agency Agence France-Presse.
The hostage situation began when the Islamist militants of Boko Haram stormed a school in Chibok and took around 276 girls who were taking exams. Some had escaped, but the estimate that close to 200 are still held captive.
The American First Lady Michelle Obama issued the hashtag “#BringBackOurGirls” on the social media platform Twitter, and it has since spread to other social media platforms on the Internet. However, nothing other than a few deployments of U.S. embassy personnel and possibly military trainers have been offered to the Nigerian government.
The Nigerian government has struggled to contain the militants, with a Nigerian governor suggesting that the militants are better motivated for war than the military. Also, the country asked for neighboring Niger for security aid to contain the Islamist threat.
Also, reports surfaced that the U.S. State Department under Hillary Clinton declined to label Boko Haram a foreign terrorist organization, which would impose several restrictions on the group’s funding in the U.S. Yet, the Obamas continue the use of hashtags to push for peace while conflicts rage and to ignore the bigger problem with groups like Boko Haram: their Islamist extremism and push for violence.