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Tuesday, 13 May 2014


#BringBackOurGirls! The plea of the desperate parents of 276 Nigerian schoolgirls abducted by #BokoHaram last month. As regular readers of this blog will hopefully agree, I am generally not given to venting, judging or campaigning, but today I make an exception.

Whatever their political motivation and however entitled they believe themselves to be, the members of Boko Haram responsible for conceiving and carrying out this act of terror simply fall to be described as evil by any rational standard of ethical or moral behaviour.

I know we can point to events such as 9/11, the Westgate Nairobi shopping mall attack, Syrian gas exterminations and endless other terror attacks and say they all fall within the realm of evil.  I don't disagree.  The moment you take it upon yourself to murder people in order to justify your point of view you cross the boundary of what is morally acceptable by any civilised standards.

The Nigerian schoolgirl outrage is (hopefully) not yet murder, but we hear stories of rape, selling the girls into slavery, using the girls to negotiate the release of convicted terrorists, forcing them to convert to Islam and so on.  It is hard to imagine what the girls and their parents are going through.

My revulsion is centred on the abuse of children in this manner.  I cannot condone the abuse of anyone, but abusing children smacks of cowardice and is about as low as anyone can stoop. There can never be a justification for it.

So where am I going with this?  Well, as I sit here in South Africa, one small action I can take which might help to bring back the girls is to support the worldwide wave of condemnation which is building.  It may be that Boko Haram don't care, but perhaps they do.  Maybe, just maybe, they will realize that this sort of behaviour is hardening international attitudes towards them and is unlikely to draw any sympathy for their anti-Western stance, even from other Islamist groupings.

My invitation to readers therefore is to take a firm stand against this behaviour, whether through social media, Avaaz or any other suitable medium.  Small as the gesture may be, your voice does count, especially when it is part of a bigger wave of voices. Share this, retweet it or simply start your own campaign, but let's do what we can to #BringOurGirlsBack.

"Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites....All that is required for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."  (Quotes attrubuted to Edmund Burke)

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