(Photo: Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)
The president of Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs has condemned the actions of militant group Boko Haram, proclaiming that terrorism "has no place" in Islam. The Roman Catholic Cardinal Archbishop of Abuja applauded those comments.
"Terrorism has no place in Islam," said the the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa'ad Abubakar III, according to Fides News Agency. "We must rise up as always, with one voice to condemn all acts of terrorism, condemn those terrorists wherever they are and try our best as Muslims to ensure peace reigns in our community."
Cardinal John Onaiyekan, who was previously the president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Nigeria, congratulated the Sultan for his "bold statement," and said that it has given him the courage to speak out on the issue.
"There seems to be an urgent need for an in-house dialogue within the Nigerian Muslim community," the cardinal suggested. "Such a dialogue would make it possible to courageously and sincerely deal with currents and movements that create the kind of religious climate and atmosphere in which Boko Haram and similar groups emerge and thrive."
Boko Haram's war on the Nigerian government has stretched for close to five years now, and the terrorist group has killed thousands of people in its quest to establish Islamic rule over the country. It has often targeted Nigeria's Christian population, which makes up close to half of the country, determined to drive them out.
Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau said in a video earlier in May that he has taken the girls because Allah told him to do so, and threatened to sell them to Islamic militants.
"There is a market for selling humans. Allah says I should sell. He commands me to sell. I will sell women. I sell women," Shekau said in the local Hausa language.
Other Nigerian Muslim groups have also affirmed that the terrorist organization does not represent Islam.
"We the Muslims of Nigeria hereby, unambiguously condemn in the strongest terms, the Boko Haram terrorists. Boko Haram are not our brothers, we reject to associate with them," MuslimsAgainstTerror.com states.
"The actions of Boko Haram are in clear contradiction of the tenets of Islam. Islam forbids the killing of innocent victims," the group adds. "Islam forbids the attack of women and children."
On Monday, Nigeria's military reported that it has found the location of the kidnapped girls, but said that it is not going to move in with force out of fears that they will be harmed in an attack.
"But where they are held, can we go there with force? We can't kill our girls in the name of trying to get them back," Chief of Defence Staff Air Marshal Alex Badeh said.