Muslim scholars condemn Boko Haram's 'heinous' acts

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Updated 10 May 2014
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Muslim scholars condemn Boko Haram's 'heinous' acts

Religious scholars working under the world’s largest bloc of Islamic countries on Thursday denounced the mass kidnappings of Nigerian girls by an extremist group claiming to be fighting for Islam.
The group called Boko Haram seized more than 200 pupils from a secondary school in Chibok, in northern Nigeria’s Borno state on April 14. Boko Haram fighters also seized another eight girls after that.
On Tuesday, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau has threatened in a video to sell the girls into slavery, ignoring protests and pleas by people from all faiths in Nigeria to release them unharmed.
In a statement on Thursday, the Jeddah-based International Islamic Fiqh Academy (IIFA) condemned the abductions as a “heinous act” and demanded that the victims be immediately released without any condition.
“Crime and other crimes committed by the likes of these extremist organizations contradicts all humanitarian principles and moral values and violates the provisions of the Qur’an and Sunnah,” said the academy, which is dedicated to the advanced study of Islam.
The IIFA is part of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which is composed of some 57 Muslim majority member-nations.
Also on Thursday, the OIC’s Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission said Boko Haram is misguided to claim that the abduction of the girls and the threat to sell them off as slaves is in conformity with the injunctions of Islam. The rights body described the abduction of the schoolgirls as a “barbaric act.”
“Right to education is a fundamental human right, and is in consonance with the basic tenets of Islam,” the rights body said.
Muslims around the world have also spoken out against the kidnappings.

(Additional report from the Associated Press)


Zimbabwe applies to rejoin Commonwealth

Updated 53 min 57 sec ago
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Zimbabwe applies to rejoin Commonwealth

  • Zimbabwe has applied to rejoin the Commonwealth, marking a major step in its international re-engagement after Robert Mugabe was ousted last year.
  • Britain said last month that it would strongly support Zimbabwe returning to the Commonwealth.

Harare, Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe has applied to rejoin the Commonwealth, the group said Monday, marking a major step in the country’s international re-engagement after Robert Mugabe was ousted last year.
Mugabe angrily pulled Zimbabwe out of the bloc of former British colonies in 2003 after its membership was suspended over violent and graft-ridden elections the previous year.
The Commonwealth said it had received a letter dated May 15 from Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa applying to re-join.
Member countries “very much look forward to Zimbabwe’s return when the conditions are right,” said Secretary-General Patricia Scotland in a statement from London.
“Zimbabwe’s eventual return to the Commonwealth, following a successful membership application, would be a momentous occasion.”
Scotland confirmed that the Commonwealth would send observers to elections due in July or August, the first polls since Mugabe was ousted in November after a brief military takeover.
Mugabe was replaced by his former deputy Mnangagwa, a veteran ruling ZANU-PF party loyalist who was backed by senior military officers.
Mnangagwa has vowed to hold fair and free elections, and has pledged to revive the moribund economy by repairing international ties and attracting foreign investment.
Scotland called for “a credible, peaceful and inclusive election that restores citizens’ confidence, trust and hope in the development and democratic trajectory of their country.”
Britain said last month that it would strongly support Zimbabwe returning to the Commonwealth.
Zimbabwe had fractured relations with the West under Mugabe, who had held power since independence from Britain in 1980.
The government in Harare was not immediately available to comment.
If readmitted, Zimbabwe will become the fifth country to re-join the voluntary association of mostly former territories of the British empire, after Gambia, South Africa, Pakistan and Fiji.
The Gambia re-joined the Commonwealth in February this year after the impoverished west African nation was in 2013 suddenly pulled out of the bloc by ex-president Yahya Jammeh.
The other countries to have quit the organization are Ireland, which left in 1949 and the Maldives which exited in 2016.
The Commonwealth brings together 53 countries representing 2.4 billion people, under a charter pledging commitment to democracy, human rights and rule of law.
The last country to join was Rwanda, in 2009.
The organization also holds an Olympics-style multi-sport event every four years, most recently in Australia’s Gold Coast in April.
Zimbabwe left the Commonwealth at the height of violent land seizures, when white farmers were evicted in favor of landless black people in a policy that wrecked the agriculture sector and triggered national economic collapse.