The real war on women

Boko Haram's abduction, sale of Nigerian girls is radical Islam at its worst

Kidnapped. Coerced into religious conversion. Denied an education. Forced into marriage. Sold into slavery. Relegated to second-class citizenship.

Western society, take note – this is what a real “war on women” looks like.

The terror campaign being waged in Nigeria by radical Islamist group Boko Haram should galvanize the entire freedom-loving world in outrage at the atrocities taking place.

We’re surprised by the metered outrage coming from the West, considering women and girls are the main targets in this group’s bloody crusade to forcibly convert northeastern Nigeria into an Islamic state.

Boko Haram, whose name in the Hausa language means “Western education is sinful,” has murdered more than 1,500 – mostly Christians and foreigners – this year alone through bombings, shootings and horrific machete attacks.

And that number might even change from the time we wrote it to the moment you just read it.

The group ultimately wants Nigeria ruled under Sharia, the Islamic law that forbids homosexuality and makes adultery and apostasy crimes punishable by death.

These thugs despise all things modern and secular, but they reserve special hatred for the education of women.

Last month’s mass abduction of nearly 300 girls from a northern boarding school was merely a setup for Boko Haram’s most despicable act yet – selling the girls as child brides to Muslims or into sexual slavery on the open market.

“I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah,” a man claiming to be Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau said in a video obtained by European media. “God instructed me to sell them, they are his properties and I will carry out his instructions.”

Espousing a retrograde elan that would make the Taliban proud, Shekau repeatedly called for an end to Western education and said the girls should not have been in school in the first place. He also said girls as young as 9 were suitable for marriage.

Child marriages are not permitted under Nigeria’s Western-style constitution, but are common in the northern states where Islamic law is practiced.

News agencies were unclear whether the video was made before or after reports that some of the girls had been forced to marry their abductors after being purchased for roughly $12. Villagers have told the kidnapped girls’ parents that some were taken across borders to Cameroon and Chad, packed into trucks along with stolen livestock and food.

Some 270 girls are still being held captive.

Sadly, this brand of war on women is one in which ordinarily steadfast moderates and liberals too often dither in choosing a side. They fear being labeled “Islamophobic” by easily provoked defenders of the faith and scholarly purveyors of political correctness.

All too familiar with this pantomime is Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a noted women’s rights activist and outspoken critic of the treatment of women under Islamic rule.

Growing up in a Muslim family, the Somali-born former Dutch legislator suffered beatings, genital mutilation and an arranged marriage. Then, after renouncing her faith and drawing attention to the plight of Muslim women in the short film Submission – a film for which her friend, director Theo van Gogh, was assassinated in 2004 by a Muslim radical – she was subjected to castigation, harassment and death threats.

Ultra-liberal Brandeis University last month selected Ali to be its commencement speaker and to receive an honorary doctorate, but administrators cowed to protests coordinated by the Council on American–Islamic Relations and rescinded the invitation within eight days.

Some of Ali’s past statements, protesters said, were “Islamaphobic” and inconsistent with the university’s “core values.”

Though the tactic kept Ali from speaking at Brandeis (school motto: Truth, Even Unto Its Innermost Parts), she has not been silenced.

We deeply hope she inspires others to roundly condemn human rights abuses, including those disproportionately concentrated in the Muslim world.

We would hope she inspires courage to more people being bullied into ignoring the religious component endemic to modern terrorism.

Silence will not reform radical Islam. Silence will not bring peace to northern Nigeria. And if the girls kidnapped by the Boko Haram somehow make it back into the arms of their parents, it will not be because of silence.

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