First Lady Michelle Obama delivered a rare radio address to the nation where she highlighted the Mother’s Day weekend to speak out strongly against the kidnapping of more than 200 Nigerian girls by Islamist militants who have threatened to sell the girls into slavery.
“Like millions of people across the globe, my husband and I are outraged and heartbroken over the kidnapping of more than 200 Nigerian girls from their school dormitory in the middle of the night,” Michelle Obama said Saturday in a weekly radio address usually reserved for President Barack Obama.
“This unconscionable act was committed by a terrorist group determined to keep these girls from getting an education – grown men attempting to snuff out the aspirations of young girls,” she said.
The First Lady is a formidable woman who correctly inserted herself into an international tragedy. As a mother of two daughters and a confidant to the president, Michelle Obama is signaling to the world that she takes a tough position on terrorists –especially when it involves the kidnapping of Black female students.
As First Lady, Michelle Obama has also taken on the role of a calm but authoritative leader in the White House during times of crisis. And it’s a welcomed one.
“I want you to know that Barack has directed our government to do everything possible to support the Nigerian government’s efforts to find these girls and bring them home,” Mrs. Obama said.
“In these girls, Barack and I see our own daughters. We see their hopes, their dreams – and we can only imagine the anguish their parents are feeling right now. Many of them may have been hesitant to send their daughters off to school fearing that harm might come their way. But they took that risk because they believed in their daughters’ promise and wanted to give them every opportunity to succeed.”
The Muslim terrorist group, Boko Haram, which does not believe in girls attending school, has taken responsibility for the kidnapping, saying that they are selling the girls.
Although Muslim and Christians for the most part exist peacefully in the African country of 175 million people, fringe groups like Boko Haram oppose Western values, including educating girls.
The kidnapping has generated mounting outrage from the international community amid accusations that the Nigerian government did not move swiftly enough to rescue the missing girls.
The problem, for many, is this: there are no visible signs that the Nigerians are making any progress and with each passing day the gets colder. The United States, Britain, China and France have all offered help in the search since the girls were taken from their school in mid-April.
Last week, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan insists that he will track down the terrorists.
“By God’s grace, we will conquer the terrorists,” Jonathan said, according to CNN. “I believe the kidnap of these girls will be the beginning of the end for terror in Nigeria.”
Reps. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), Barbara Lee and Karen Bass (both D-Calif.), joined their voices to protests.
“We are anguished as mothers, grandmothers and lovers of children that this is what the children, the girls in Nigeria are worth,” Jackson Lee said while holding up $12 USD, the amount of money the girls are said to have been sold for by their kidnappers. “And so our first command and demand is to use all resources to bring the terrorist thugs to justice.”
Last week, the Obama administration began prepping a team of law enforcement, military and hostage negotiators to assist the Nigerian government. And in the meantime, Michelle Obama is becoming more vocal as the situation generates worldwide outcry.
“Their school had recently been closed due to terrorist threats…but these girls still insisted on returning to take their exams,” Michelle Obama said. “They were so determined to move to the next level of their education…so determined to one day build careers of their own and make their families and communities proud. And what happened in Nigeria was not an isolated incident,” the First Lady added. “It’s a story we see every day as girls around the world risk their lives to pursue their ambitions.”
Jonathan tried to calm tensions in Nigeria by disputing claims that the girls have been split up and taken out of the country.
“There are stories that they have moved them outside of the country. But if they move that number of girls to Cameroon, people will see, so I believe they are still in Nigeria,” Jonathan told journalists.
And Michelle Obama, who is emerging as a compassionate leader in the White House, continues to lean on her faith.
“Let us all pray for their safe return. Let us hold their families in our hearts during this very difficult time…and let us show just a fraction of their courage in fighting to give every girl on this planet the education that is her birthright.”