Reflections on Boko Haram Incidents

-by Saphia Suarez and Isabel Griffith-Gorgati- “The over 200 Chibok girls have converted to Islam, which they confess is the best religion. Either their parents accept this and convert too or they can die,” Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau declared in a recent statement.

Last April, 276 girls were abducted from a school in Chibok, Nigeria by the Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram. This name translates to “Western education is sin.” Abolishing western education in Nigeria and creating an Islamic state are two of Boko Haram’s main goals. Therefore, the kidnapping of the girls in April was likely an act of violence against the school, which is government-run. Boko Haram views the Nigerian government, and, therefore, its institutions of education, as westernized. Some of the students were Christian, and according to one of the girls who was lucky to escape, they separated the Muslims and Christians, and released the Muslims. The kidnapping prompted a worldwide movement to rescue the young women, including an international campaign called Bring Back Our Girls.

"Bring Back Our Girls" has been reverberating around the world since the first hostages were taken last April.  (
“Bring Back Our Girls” has been reverberating around the world since the first hostages were taken last April. (

Despite international action and repeated news that rescue missions have been organized and deals have been made to retrieve the girls, they have still not all been rescued. Recent rumors of a proposed deal between the terrorist organization and the Nigerian government have been dismissed by Abubakar Shekau, the terrorist leader. Shekau claimed that the young women had long since converted to Islam and been married off, shattering hopes of their return. He continued, “in this war, there is no going back,” reaffirming beliefs that this first attack was just a step in Boko Haram’s mission to create an Islamic state. The extremist group recently took the town of Mubi under its control. In October, another 60 women were abducted from the village Garta, which has a strong Boko Haram presence. The group targeted Christian girls, and local Catholic Bishop Mamza said, “this is actually what is happening on a daily basis, only it is not reported.” Many have expressed frustration that the Nigerian government has not been sufficiently proactive in rescuing the kidnapped girls. Since the abduction of the young women in Chibok, multiple violent attacks and killings in northern Nigeria have been attributed to Boko Haram.

Boko Haram continually attacks the freedom and rights of Nigerians. With the repeated abduction of young women in the name of the Boko Haram movement, the fundamental rights of religion, education, and personal freedom are violated.


As members of the Winsor community, where all religious backgrounds are accepted and education is viewed as an intrinsic right, the concept of education being deprived and freedom of religion being infringed upon is hard to imagine. To have one’s home, family, future, and identity violently stripped away based on religious and institutional affiliations is unthinkable. As privileged young women in a first-world country, it is important for us not only to recognize that the privileges we take for granted are being endangered in other parts of the world, but to act on these injustices through our connections to the larger global community.