It was like a scene from a movie, except there was no Iron Man swooping to the rescue. More than a hundred girls sitting in a clearing, chanting the Koran. Their eyes downcast, the girls were swathed in ghostly grey and black hijabs. Their captors said this was evidence that they had “converted to Islam”, but their fear was palpable. They held themselves unnaturally still, as though to move would mean death.
Many of the girls were abducted on April 14 from a school in northern Nigeria, which means they have had less than a month to memorise those Koranic verses, or at least to have the chants beaten into them. More than half of the 276 stolen girls were missing from the terrorists’ video. Among them were Rebeccas and Esthers and Ruths ”“ lovely, strong Biblical names. One girl was led to the front and told to give a Muslim name, not her Christian one. You wondered about her missing sisters and whether they had displeased their captors by refusing to surrender either their name or their faith.
“These girls you occupy yourselves with”¦ we have indeed liberated them. These girls have become Muslims,” jeered Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Boko Haram. He addresses the camera as if he were straight out of Evil Villain school.