As the world continues to mourn the 17 lives lost in the multiple attacks last week in Paris, some people are questioning why the international community isn’t grieving similarly for the estimated 2,000 people killed by the Boko Haram terrorist group in Nigeria this month.
On Jan. 3, Islamist militants allegedly killed as many as 2,000 civilians in Baga, Nigeria, and surrounding towns, a tragedy Amnesty International declared as the “deadliest massacre” in the history of Boko Haram. A U.S. counter-terrorism official told NBC News the jihadist militants went door-to-door killing families, then strategically placed improvised explosive devices in the streets to funnel survivors into areas where firing squads were waiting.
And over the weekend, the Islamist militants reportedly strapped bombs to girls as young as 10 years old for a pair of suicide missions at marketplaces in Nigeria. Boko Haram, which operates primarily out of northeastern Nigeria, aims to establish an Islamic emirate in areas that it controls, similar to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the Middle East.
Since 2009, Boko Haram, which means “western education is forbidden,” has become increasingly involved in raids and bomb attacks against the Nigerian government and civilians in schools, police stations, federal buildings and churches. It is also responsible for kidnapping locals within the African country and foreigners.
The radical Islamist group kidnapped nearly 300 girls last April from their school dormitories near the Nigerian town of Chibok, and drove away with them in the middle of the night. Members claimed responsibility for the kidnappings and threatened to “sell” the young women on the market. During the summer, a video emerged showing footage of at least 100 of the girls praying and dressed in full-length, black veils.
Last year, the international community took to Twitter using the #BringBackOurGirls hashtag to encourage the release of the teenage girls. Various public officials and celebrities, including first lady Michelle Obama, U.S. women senators and comedian Ellen DeGeneres, united in the social-media outcry. The 20 women who served in the U.S. Senate last May even called on President Barack Obama and the global community to impose additional sanctions on Boko Haram by placing its members on the United Nation’s al-Qieda sanctions list. And Secretary of State John Kerry offered aid to Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, ultimately sending U.S. advisers to assist the government’s leaders.
Many people have argued the response to the most recent attacks doesn’t compare to past outcries, and have asked: “Where’s the global outrage?” In the past week, nearly 16,000 Twitter users posted their thoughts by Tuesday morning using the hashtag “#BokoHaramkilled2000people.” And there were more than 23,000 posts using “#PrayForNigeria” by Tuesday afternoon.
In France last week, brothers Chérif and Säid Kouachi stormed the offices of the satirical newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, and killed 12 people on Wednesday. The next day, a gunman killed a policewoman and wounded a street-sweeper across from a Jewish school in the neighborhood of Montrouge in Paris. On Friday, officials killed the Kouachi brothers after a standoff at a printing shop north of the country’s capital. Simultaneously, an associate of the brothers, Amedy Coulibaly, seized a kosher supermarket in Paris, killing four hostages before police stormed the market. A fourth suspect remains at-large.
More than 40 presidents and prime ministers marched with millions of French citizens at solidarity rallies on Sunday, when they united against terrorism in the wake of the murders that rocked Paris.