Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan promised Malala Yousafzai that the missing Nigerian schoolgirls “will be returned as soon as possible,” the activist said, succeeding where protests and Twitter campaigns have failed.
After surviving a Taliban assassination attempt in 2012, the Pakistani teen has become an international education activist. She has addressed the United Nations, met with U.S. President Barack Obama and been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Yousafzai marked her 17th birthday Monday with a visit to Nigeria, and urged the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram to free the 219 schoolgirls who were kidnapped in April from the northern Nigerian town of Chibok, calling them her “sisters.”
“My birthday wish this year is ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ now and alive,” she said, referring to the #BringBackOurGirls social-media campaign that went viral soon after the kidnapping.
Yousafzai also appealed directly to their captors. “Let them be free. They have committed no crime,” she added. “You are misusing the name of Islam … Islam is a religion of peace.”
Both Yousafzai and the missing girls were targeted by Islamic extremists for seeking an education.
The hashtag #BringBackOurGirls first appeared in a tweet by Nigerian corporate lawyer Ibrahim Abdullahi on April 23, who credits Obiageli Ezekwesili, former vice-president of the World Bank’s Africa region, with coining the phrase in a TV appearance, according to NBC. U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama, Angelina Jolie and Alicia Keys are among the celebrities who’ve joined the campaign… see more