Nigeria kidnapped schoolgirls: Michelle Obama condemns abduction in Mother's Day presidential address

Michelle Obama replaces her husband in presidential weekly address demanding justice for missing Nigerian schoolgirls

The American First Lady Michelle Obama has condemned the kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls in Nigeria as an "unconscionable act" led by a group of men "attempting to snuff out the aspirations of young girls".

Taking over the President's weekly radio address ahead of Mother's Day in the US, the First Lady said she and Mr Obama are "outraged and heartbroken" over the kidnapping of more than 250 Nigerian schoolgirls taken from their dormitories in the town of Chibok.

"In these girls, Barack and I see our own daughters," Mrs Obama said, referring to Malia, 15, and Sasha, 12. "We see their hopes, their dreams and we can only imagine the anguish their parents are feeling right now."

Mrs Obama praised the girls and their determination to continue their education, build careers of their own and make their families and community proud knowing full well their lives could be in danger.

Read more: What is Boko Haram?

"Their school had recently been closed due to terrorist threats, but these girls insisted on returning to take their exams," she said. "They were so determined to move to the next level of their education, so determined to one day build careers of their own."

Mrs Obama insisted the mass kidnapping in Nigeria is not an isolated incident, but "a story we see every day as girls around the world risk their lives to pursue their ambitions", citing the case of Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani girl who survived a Taliban attack after being shot in the head as she traveled to school in 2012.

The First Lady also expressed hope that the incident in Nigeria will inspire boys and girls across the United States to continue their education and take their studies seriously, noting that 65 millions girls do not attend school even though educated women earn more money and have healthier lives.

"I hope that any young people in America who take school for granted, any young people who are slacking off or thinking of dropping out, I hope they will learn the story of these girls and recommit themselves to their education," she said.

Mrs Obama, an advocate for women's rights, ended her address asking the nation to pray for the Nigerian girls' safe return home, adding: "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."

The Islamist militant group Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for kidnapping more than 250 girls from the secondary school in Chibok, northeastern Nigeria, on 14 April and has threatened to "sell them" into slavery.

Boko Haram, whose name loosely translates as "Western education is forbidden", aims to revive a medieval Islamic caliphate in Nigeria, whose population is split between Christians and Muslims.

The United States, Britain, China and France have offered to help in the search for the missing schoolgirls, which has sparked global outrage and international condemnation.

On Friday, the United Nations Security Council called for the "immediate and unconditional" release of the abducted schoolgirls and said it would take "the appropriate measures" against Boko Haram, hinting at potential sanctions against members of the group.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?