The abduction of nearly 300 schoolgirls by a terrorist Islamic group in Nigeria is a matter of deep concern, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran has said.
Asked about the issue last week Dookeran said he has been in communication with this country’s High Commissioner to Nigeria, Nyahuma Menthuhotep Obika, and had been apprised of the developments.
On April 14, Abubakar Shekau, leader of the group Boko Haram — invaded an all-girl secondary school, then packed the teenagers, who had been taking exams, onto trucks and disappeared into a remote area along the border with Cameroon.
According to international media reports, Shekau, who drew international ire and scorn after vowing to sell young Christian girls “in the marketplace,” could soon be the subject of a multinational manhunt involving US military and law enforcement agents.
Boko Haram means “Western education is forbidden”.
“I enjoy killing anyone that God commands me to kill — the way I enjoy killing chickens and rams.” Shekau was quoted as saying in a video the group posted.
Dookeran told the Express that the situation was a political one which this country will not get into at this point.
“We are pleased that the Nigerian government is now seeking support from the outside to help them deal with the abduction issues pertaining to that particular political conflict,” said Dookeran.
Dookeran said he hopes this matter can be resolved quickly.
“There is a deeper political issue but we are not getting there at this point,” he said.
“All people globally, including citizens of Trinidad and Tobago should really extend their prayers for the safe return of these young girls,” he added.
Meanwhile, President of the Islamic Missionaries Guild Imtiaz Mohammed said that holding women and children hostage is not a tenet of Islam.
He said Muslims who commit such acts are not following the teachings of Islam and are doing these things on their own volition.
Mohammed said further that Islam does not prohibit a woman from education.
He said there was no prophet who spoke to denying a woman education and knowledge.
“These groups that operating — Boko Haram in Nigeria, Al Shabaab in Somalia, the acts that they are committing, suicide bombings, kidnappings, Islam does not endorse these things,” said Mohammed.
“In the Islamic way there are answers to every problem that a human being can possibly face in this world and certainly the answer is not violence,” he added.
“We Muslims know better than that, all this violence doesn’t come from Islam, it comes from their own interest to have power in their hands,” said Mohammed.
He said the “Prophet Muhammed, peace and blessings upon him, was stoned by people when he was practicing and preaching Islam and always kept his composure and never retaliated”.
Islam, said Mohammed teaches peace.
“The 300 women who have been kidnapped in Nigeria, we do not endorse that, Islam does not endorse that, no people, especially Muslims should be holding Muslim women as hostages,” said Mohammed.