UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS
U.S. first lady Michelle Obama speaks as she presents the 2014 National Medal for Museum and Library Service at the White House in Washington May 8, 2014. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR3OBU1 Yuri Gripas/Reuters
Michelle Obama on Saturday criticized the kidnapping of scores of Nigerian schoolgirls as an "unconscionable act" carried out by a terrorist group she said is determined to keep them from getting an education — "or grown men attempting to snuff out the aspirations of young girls."
- BokoHaram made 'tactical error' kidnapping Nigerian schoolgirls'
Taking over the president's weekly radio and Internet address on the eve of the American holiday for honouring mothers, the first lady said that she and U.S. President Barack Obama are "outraged and heartbroken" over the April 15 abduction of more than 300 girls from a school dormitory.
"In these girls, Barack and I see our own daughters," Mrs. Obama said, referring to Malia, 15, and Sasha, 12. "We see their hopes, their dreams and we can only imagine the anguish their parents are feeling right now."
The Islamist militant group Boko Haram has admitted to kidnapping the Nigerian schoolgirls and has threatened to sell them into slavery.
In Saturday's address, the first lady asked the nation to pray for the girls' safe return.
"This unconscionable act was committed by a terrorist group determined to keep these girls from getting an education - grown men attempting to snuff out the aspirations of young girls," she said.
"Let us hold their families in our hearts during this very difficult time, and let us show just a fraction of their courage in fighting to give every girl on this planet the education that is her birthright."
The Nigerian government's inability to rescue the girls nearly a month after they were abducted by Boko Haram has sparked worldwide outrage, including protests and a social media campaign. The U.S. and other countries have sent teams of technical experts to assist the Nigerian government's search effort.
Authorities say more than 300 girls were abducted from their school in the country's remote northeast. Fifty-three escaped and 276 remain captive.