From the Vatican to Mecca to Washington and Addis Ababa, and urge those who are responsible for their abduction to release them unharmed, and return them to their families, where they rightfully belong,” said a statement from the White House.
The US President Barack Obama condemned the kidnapping and pledged the send American commandos to try to rescue the girls. He also pledged his government’s commitment to engage with regional forces to root out organisations such as Boko Haram. Britain and France also pledged to join the US in rescue efforts.
The Chairman of the African Union Commission Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma described as unacceptable the kidnapping of schoolgirls and said “We have to campaign against the abduction of school girls, because girls need education, girls need to be at school. It is their right.”
Dr. Dlamini Zuma called on all African Union Member States and the international community to support the Nigerian Government to energetically fight the abduction of girls, senseless killings and series of other vices perpetuated by the militant group Boko Haram.
“We call on the Nigerian Government, regional organizations, the AU and the international community to join forces to urgently and decisively act to bring the children home to their families and protect them from further danger,’ said Zuma.
The most senior authority in Mecca – Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Sheikh also condemned Boko Haram over the kidnapping of schoolgirls. Sheikh Abdulaziz described Boko Haram as misguided and a “set up to smear the image of Islam.’
His remarks came as religious leaders in the Muslim world, who rarely comment on militant violence, joined in denouncing Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, for saying Allah had told him to sell off the kidnapped girls as forced brides.
“This is a group that has been set up to smear the image of Islam and must be offered advice, shown their wrong path and be made to reject it,” Sheikh told the Arabic-language newspaper al-Hayat in an interview published on Friday.
“These groups are not on the right path because Islam is against kidnapping, killing and aggression,” he said. “Marrying kidnapped girls is not permitted.”
This week, Al-Azhar, the prestigious Cairo-based seat of Sunni learning, also said that the kidnappings had “nothing to do with the tolerant and noble teachings of Islam”.
The Vatican also condemned Boko Haram kidnappings as one of the “horrible forms of violence long typical of this group.”
In a statement issued by Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, said that the kidnapping “calls for the strongest condemnation and elicits the most heartfelt compassion for the victims, as well as horror at the physical and spiritual suffering and the incredible humiliation inflicted upon them.” The Vatican called for the liberation of the hostages and an end to “hateful terrorism.”