SALISBURY, Md.- The April 14 abduction of nearly 300 schoolgirls in Nigeria has thrust the Islamic Fundamentalist group responsible, Boko Haram, into the headlines. But who is this group -- what is their goal -- and what do they stand for? WBOC's Corrina Pysa sat down with a Salisbury University professor familiar with the extremist organization to answer those questions.
Boko Haram is not new. The militant group, based in northeast Nigeria, has been spreading its violent agenda since it was founded in 2002.
“Essentially, what they advocate is for the creation of an Islamic state in Nigeria,” explained Leonard Robinson, political science chair at Salisbury University.
Viciously opposed to Westernization -- including the idea that women have the right to be educated -- Boko Haram's goal is to establish a "pure" Islamic state, governed by strict "sharia" law.
“It espouses a very militant ideology that defines anyone who is not a member of Islam as a transgressor, a threat to the faith and therefore a viable and legitimate target,” Robinson noted.
In video released Monday allegedly showing the kidnapped schoolgirls, a man claiming to be Boko Haram's leader said the girls, who come from a strong Christian background, have converted to Islam.
Robinson told WBOC this is in direct opposition to the mainstream understanding of the religion.
“Certainly, I think the underlying themes that one finds in Islam and the Quran is this idea that, certainly no advocacy, necessarily, for the forcible effort to convert people to Islam.”
Critics argue Boko Haram represents "an embarrassment to Islam."
“Surveys around the world of the Muslim population show, quite clearly, that the large majority of Muslims reject the use of violence in pursuit of those kinds of goals as justified,” said Robinson.
Wednesday, July 23 2014 3:49 PM EDT2014-07-23 19:49:09 GMT
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