Why Twitter won't save Nigerian school girls

Twitter won’t bring back the Nigerian schoolgirls

Helping the Nigerian schoolgirls means killing those who have enslaved them


The T-shirt campaign was as inevitable as it is useless. Once the story of the more than 200 stolen Nigerian schoolgirls went viral on Facebook and Twitter, complete with the catchy slogan “Bring back our girls,” it was only a matter of time before their ordeal was made into a fashion accessory. Proceeds from T-shirt sales will supposedly go to families of abducted girls. How they will be identified and paid isn’t something the T-shirt makers explain.

The next phase will probably be novelty bracelets. Maybe someone can repurpose all those Kony 2012 wristbands that must by now be cluttering drawers in wealthy countries all over the world.

All the attention and anger is understandable and justified. This is an obscene crime that, if anything, has had its jagged contours smoothed over in some press reports. (“Forced marriage” is a mealy-mouthed way to describe child rape.) But when discussing the obscenity that has befallen these girls, could we at least be clear-eyed about what helping them, and future victims like them, would entail?

In the Ottawa Citizen, Shannon Gormley says Canada could “attack violence at the root by putting a concentrated effort into poverty reduction.” Poverty is the root cause of a lot of terrible things. This isn’t one of them. Boko Haram’s leader Abubaker Shekau has helpfully provided his own explanation.

“In Islam, it is allowed to take infidel women as slaves. In due course, we will start taking women away,” he said in a March video.

Shekau appeared, gloating, in another recent video to confirm that the girls, whom he calls slaves, are in his possession. “I will marry off a woman at the age of 12. I will marry off a girls at the age of nine,” he said. “God instructed me to sell them. They are his properties, and I will carry out his instructions.”

Shekau does not sound like the kind of guy who might be dissuaded from his pedophilia and religious supremacism with a microcredit loan from Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development.

He runs one of a number of Islamist militias that have taken root across Africa’s Sahel. Last year, a similarly minded group conquered much of Mali, making life miserable for everyone in areas they controlled. They were pushed back because France, with logistical help from Canada and other allies, was willing to put its soldiers on the ground to hunt them down and kill them. Malians are now better off as a result.

The chances that the stolen Nigerian schoolgirls will be rescued are, sadly, slight. But there will be other enslaved girls unless Boko Haram is crushed. That will require men with guns—either Western soldiers, or African ones with extensive Western backing. If those demanding help for the stolen girls support a military mission to suppress Islamist extremist groups in Africa, let them say so explicitly. Otherwise their calls to action are disingenuous. T-shirts are not enough.


Twitter won’t bring back the Nigerian schoolgirls

  1. Is there anybody you DON’T want to go to war with?

    • Not wanting to send in troops is a perfectly valid position to take. Just admit that you’re not willing to do anything difficult to save them.

      • We shouldn’t be sending in troops anywhere!

        There are, however, other ways to deal with this.

        Petrou would have us in every armed conflict on the planet.

    • There are few problems Petrou doesn’t believe can be solved by killing muslims around the world. It serves muslim extremists very well to have people like him publishing articles.

  2. Michael,

    I agree with you completely. The only way to stop these fanatics is with a bullet to the head. No mercy. No compassion. No regrets.

    We need to go in there and kill them all…..every last one of them, and eliminate the ideology that allows for this barbarity.

    Of course, as soon as we try to do this, we will no doubt be bombarded by lawyers (of the ilk that defend Omar Khadr) claiming that the “Harper Government is killing black Africans”..etc..etc….

    The mindset that likes to “buy the T-shirts” but do nothing is alive and well in Canada and other Western Nations. Just look at the comment by EmilyOne for evidence.

    To deal with these animals, we need to turn a little barbaric on our own. Send in the troops and special forces….and keep out the media. We don’t want to shock them when we do what needs to be done.

    • Ahh yes, teaching our men to kill Africans….good idea. Bound to do wonders for our country. Colonialism worked before, right?

      You need the number of the DND recruitment center do you?

      PS Petrou talked about buying tees….not me

      • Thanks for proving my points, emily.

        You’re nothing…if not predictable.

  3. We won’t get anywhere by chest-thumping, and murdering those people we disagree with.