Thursday, May 22, 2014

Hashtag activism

Four words wrapped in a hashtag has brought the world’s attention to the abduction of more than 300 teenage girls in Nigeria. Although these innocent teenagers were abducted on April 14, it got traction recently after the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls showed up in tweets almost every single day. It’s outrageous that the whole episode was kept under wraps for more than two weeks, until some brave Nigerian activists launched an online campaign using the hashtags #BringBackOurDaughters, #BringBackOurGirls. These hashtag campaigns went viral in no time and pressurized Nigerian President Goodluck Joanathan to take action. 

After abducting the teenagers, those maniacs who call themselves Boko Haram had the cheek to come back into the city and abduct more girls right from their homes. And to add more to it, they sent videos of the girls they abducted. In those nerve-wrecking videos, some weird looking men dressed in military gear- supposed leaders of the group - vow to sell the girls as “wives” for $12 each. I mean what on mother earth is happening.

For those many mocking the hashtag campaign, I think you folks need a reality check. If critics just can't do anything, at least they should stop mocking people who want to save the girls. Because eventually it is the online campaign that has fired up the Nigerian government to act. Sure the hashtag won't bring back the girls literally, but it will stir up local pressure, increase international support and eventually something will be done to bring back our girls. 

The abducted girls remind me of Malala Yusofzai who in spite of knowing how dangerous it is to attend school advocated the power of education for girls.  The school in which these Nigerian girls went to had closed down because of threats from extremists who believed education is sin. But this school was only recently reopened so that the girls could take their final exams. Surely these are a few brave girls who had the gumption to get out of their homes to take their final exams. 

The group who call themselves Boko Haram, the name which nearly translates as “western education is sin” is terrified of education. So are other extremists groups, like the ones in Pakistan who shot Malala in the head for standing up for education. I don’t know where these young teenagers get that fighting spirit from. It also makes me wonder how we take our freedom for granted. Everything comes so easy to us. But not everyone has the same good fortune that we have.  

So it’s not guns or ammunition that can really kill evil. In fact looking at the way these satanic extremist groups heinously react to the very concept of education, highlights that education is the weapon that will ultimately thrash terrorism of any kind. So let’s keep the fight going. And hell yeah, hashtag activism works.

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