LONDON – Pakistani young rights activist Malala Yousafzai has advised Nigeria’s Boko Haram to “go and learn Islam”, saying the dreaded extremist outfit is “misusing the name of the religion” by kidnapping over 200 schoolgirls.
“I think they haven’t studied Islam yet, they haven’t studied Qur’an yet, and they should go and they should learn Islam,” the 16-year-old told the CNN.
“I think that they should think of these girls as their own sisters. How can one imprison his own sisters and treat them in such a bad way?” she said, referring to Boko Haram’s threats to sell the girls into slavery.
Muslim organizations worldwide have been calling for the immediate release of nearly 300 schoolgirls kidnapped in Nigeria.
The kidnappings by the extremist group Boko Haram have led to worldwide attention and condemnation.
Muslims’ anger maximized after Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau admitted kidnapping the girls in a video, obtained by the Agence France Presse (AFP), threatening to sell them in the market.
Using Islamic teachings as justification for threatening to sell the girls into slavery, Shekau threats sparked Muslim anger worldwide, asserting that Islam was innocent for all such crimes.
“They are actually misusing the name of Islam because they have forgotten that the word Islam means ‘peace,’” Malala said.
Boko Haram, a Hausa term meaning “Western education is sinful”, is loosely modeled on Afghanistan’s Taliban.
The militant group says it is fighting enemies who have wronged its members through violence, arrests or economic neglect and corruption.
It has been blamed for a campaign of shootings and bombings against security forces and authorities in the north since 2009.
But recently, the sect has carried out attacks against Christians and Muslims alike.
Malala told CNN that Boko Haram’s acts were appalling.
“When I heard about the girls in Nigeria being abducted I felt very sad and I thought that my sisters are in prison and I thought that I should speak up for them,” the teenage, who survived being shot in the head by the Taliban, added.
Deemed as a symbol of girls’ struggle for education, Malala stole international attention in October 2012 after she was shot by Taliban militants over her campaign to encourage more girls to go to schools in Pakistan.
Malala was awarded the International Children’s Peace Prize for her dedication to promoting education.