Boko Haram–“Western Education is Sin”


Photo from Nina Matthews Photography via Flickr under Creative Commons license

Kathryn Wang, Staff Writer

About two months ago, the militant Islamic group Boko Haram abducted at least 200 schoolgirls from northeast Nigeria, bringing the issue in Nigeria to global attention. Boko Haram, which has the official name Congregation of the People of Tradition for Proselytism and Jihad, is a terrorist organization that wants to establish an Islamic state and put a stop to Western influences.

The name of the group translates roughly to “Western education is sin.” The group previously committed many atrocities—including bombings, assassinations, and raids—and is now fighting against the Nigerian government in an attempt to form an Islamic state under its control.

The abductions of the girls have exposed the flaws in the Nigerian government. After the mass abductions, the government announced that almost all the girls had been rescued, which was soon revealed to be false. The leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of the girls, stating that he planned to “sell them as wives on the market.”

The horrors of the terrorist group brought out protestors in Nigeria who were unsatisfied by the government’s response. People internationally participated in demonstrations on the issue, and the situation in Nigeria became a global problem. President Goodluck Jonathon accepted help from the United States in finding the kidnapped girls. While some of the girls managed to escape, the whereabouts of many of the girls remain unknown.

According to CNN, Boko Haram has killed over 500 civilians since the abduction of the schoolgirls, continuing with its streak of killings. On May 5, the group attacked Gamboru and Ngala, shooting a marketplace, setting houses on fire, and gunning down anyone who attempted to flee. At least 300 civilians were estimated to have been killed at this attack.

On June 1, Boko Harama attacked the three villages of Menari, Tsangayari, and Garawa, killing about 60 people. On May 20, two bombs exploded on the city of Jos, killing at least 118 people. Recently on May 30, a bomb explosion during a local village football game killed at least 30 civilians.

The global condemnation of Boko Haram has led many countries to take action against it. On May 15, the United Nations officially declared Boko Haram as an al-Quaida linked terrorist organization and imposed sanctions against the extremists. At a Paris summit on May 17, Western nations pledged to provide training to northeast Nigeria against the terrorists. With the help of foreign powers, the Nigerian government must take on its responsibility to protect its citizens from more of these massacres.