Malala Yousafzai (CNN)

Malala Yousafzai on abducted Nigerian schoolgirls: "It is my responsibility to speak up for my sisters"

"When I heard about girls in Nigeria being abducted, I felt very sad. I thought, 'My sisters are in prison now'"

Katie McDonough
May 8, 2014 6:21PM (UTC)

Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old human rights and education activist who survived an assassination attempt by the Pakistani Taliban in 2012, urged continued global focus and action to find the 276 of Nigerian schoolgirls who were abducted three weeks ago by Boko Haram militants.

"When I heard about girls in Nigeria being abducted, I felt very sad. I thought, 'My sisters are in prison now,'" she told CNN's Christiane Amanpour. "The girls in Nigeria are my sisters, and it is my responsibility to speak up for my sisters."


The girls have been missing since April 14, and while a surge of activism from Nigerians -- who are leading search efforts and organizing protests to pressure their government to act -- and others around the globe have kept a steady focus on the crisis in recent weeks, attempts to locate the girls continue to come up empty.

On Monday, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau declared that the group abducted the girls and intended to sell them into slavery. “I abducted your girls,” Shekau said in a video obtained by Agence France-Presse. “I will sell them in the market, by Allah.”

Yousafzai called Boko Haram's crimes a distortion of Islam. "I think they haven’t studied Islam yet, they haven’t studied Quran yet, and they should go and they should learn Islam," she said. "I think that they should think of these girls as their own sisters. How can one imprison his own sisters and treat them in such a bad way?"

Watch the interview here:


Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at

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