Indonesian Islamic groups condemn Boko Haram

The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) has condemned the kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls in Nigeria by Boko Haram and demanded the group release them.

"[Boko Haram] is not on the right path and contradicts Islamic values," the chairman of MUI Din Syamsuddin said in Jakarta on Monday, as quoted by

He said that the kidnapping could not be justified as Islam is against any form of violence toward women and those who are innocent.

The MUI statement was expressed in collaboration with other Islamic organisations including Muhammadiyah, Syarikat Islam, Al-Washliyah and the Islam Defenders Front (FPI), a group notorious for hate crimes and violent raids in the name of Islam.

The Human Rights Working Group (HRWG) has also condemned the brutality.

"They have clearly violated human rights and international humanitarian law where children and women should be protected," HRWG's executive director Rafendi Djamin said.

According to international humanitarian law, women and children are granted preferential treatment, respect and protection. Women must be protected from rape and from any form of indecent assault. Children under the age of eighteen must not be caught up in hostility.

HRWG's programme manager for the United Nations and Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, Muhammad Hafiz, added that education for males as well as females was guaranteed in Islam.

"Any effort to halt their education violates Islamic values," he said.

Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported that Nigeria on Monday rejected conditions set out by Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau for the release of schoolgirls held hostage by the group.

Asked if the government would reject the suggestion by Shekau in a new video that the girls may be released once Nigeria frees all militant prisoners, Interior Minister Abba Moro told AFP: "Of course."

"The issue in question is not about Boko Haram [...] giving conditions," he said.

Shekau made the statement in a video obtained by AFP on Monday claiming to show about 130 of the 276 girls abducted from their school in the remote northeastern town of Chibok, in Borno state, on April 14.

"We will never release them [the girls] until after you release our brethren," he said.

The militant leader, who has made prisoner exchange demands before, said that some of the teenagers had converted from Christianity to Islam.

The International Crisis Group said in a report published last month that Boko Haram had written an open letter in 2011 to the governor of northern Kano state, demanding the release of detainees.

Shekau repeated the demand in a video released last week claiming responsibility for the mass kidnapping that has sparked global condemnation and calls for action.

Nigeria's military has been accused of rounding up thousands of Boko Haram suspects, including women and children, and holding them in atrocious conditions that have been criticised by rights groups.

On March 14, Boko Haram fighters stormed the notorious Giwa military barracks in the state capital of Borno, Maiduguri, freeing hundreds of militants. Amnesty International, however, said on March 31 that there was "credible evidence" that more than 600 people, most of them unarmed recaptured detainees, were summarily killed in the military response.

A new video from Nigeria's Boko Haram terrorist network purports to show dozens of abducted schoolgirls, covered in hijab and praying in Arabic.

It is the first public sight of the girls since the kidnapping.

Families have said most of the abducted girls are Christians but the about 100 shown under a tree in the video recite Muslim prayers in Arabic. Many are barefoot. Some appear fearful, others desolate.

The video received Monday by The Associated Press came through channels that have provided previous messages from Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau, who speaks in the video in the Hausa language of northern Nigeria. He is shown in military fatigues cradling an assault rifle on the video that is imprinted with the Boko Haram insignia of a Quran resting on two crossed assault rifles and below the black Jihadi flag.

The United States put a US$7 million ransom on Shekau's head last year.