Xingwana: Boko Haram hiding behind religion

The minister says religion is no excuse for the violation of human rights.

Minister for Women, Children and People with Disabilities Lulu Xingwana. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Minister for Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Lulu Xingwana says terror group Boko Haram is hiding behind religion to justify the abduction of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls.

Rebels stormed a school in the northeastern village of Chibok a month ago and seized 276 girls who were taking exams. Some have escaped, but about 200 remain missing.

Xingwana was speaking at a demonstration yesterday held by 600 girls from Moletsane Secondary School in Soweto calling for the girls' release.

She said religion is no excuse for the violation of human rights.

"Boko Haram claims they are doing this in the name of religion but we know that isn't true. They are children just like you."

She told the girls in attendance to keep the families of the abducted girls in their prayers and not take for granted the freedoms they enjoy in South Africa today.

The demonstration is the latest in local and international gatherings calling for decisive action to be taken against the kidnappers.

The abductions have triggered a social media campaign under the Twitter hashtag #BringBackOurGirls and the United States, Britain, France and Israel have offered help or sent experts to Nigeria to assist the effort.