First Lady joined the world campaign to return almost 300 missing schoolgirls, who were kidnapped from their school by Nigerian rebels on April 15.
The leader of an Islamic militant group, called Boko Haram, which is trying to overthrow the Nigerian government, threatened to “sell” the girls at a market.
“I abducted your girls,” Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau said in the one-hour video released on Monday. “By Allah, I will sell them in the marketplace,” he continued, adding that the girls were being held as “slaves”.
Their uprising claimed the lives of thousands of Muslims and Christians, including more than 1,500 people killed in attacks so far this year. The actions of the rebels, who stand against “Western” culture, sparked a world outrage and a viral social media campaign across the globe.
In a sigh of solidarity, Michelle Obama posted to Facebook and Twitter on Wednesday a photo of her holding a white sign with the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls written in black marker.
Her message, which read: “Our prayers are with the missing Nigerian girls and their families. It’s time to #BringBackOurGirls,” was also signed “-mo,” which means it was approved by FLOTUS herself.
The photo comes one day after President Obama said the U.S. was sending a team to Nigeria to assist in finding the missing girls. That team consists of a combination of military, law enforcement and “other agencies” who will try and identify where in fact these girls might be and to provide them help, the president said, calling it a “heartbreaking” and “outrageous” situation.
The “BringBackOurGirls” campaign found support among many politicians, social activists, as well as celebrities. Angelina Jolie, Hilary Clinton, and Amy Poehler are among those who gave their voice of support to the missing girls.
Malala Yousafzai, who is a world-known advocate for girls’ education after surviving an assassination attempt by the Taliban, told CNN that the kidnapped girls were her “sisters”.
Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Former US Secretary of State and potential 2016 presidential candidate, called the kidnapping an “act of terrorism” and accused the Nigerian government of being “somewhat derelict” in protecting its people.
“The seizure of these young women by this radical extremist group, Boko Haram, is abominable, it’s criminal, it’s an act of terrorism and it really merits the fullest response possible, first and foremost by the government of Nigeria,” Clinton said in an interview with ABC News’ Robin Roberts at Philanthropy New York.
Ify Elueze, a young Nigerian girl who started a Change.org petition that surpassed 250,000 signatures on Wednesday, told Mashable on Monday that she couldn’t imagine what the Nigerian girls were going through.
“I know the families because I can see their pain, their anguish, and I feel for them and I feel like I am one of them,” said Elueze.
“That is the same feeling as everyone who has cried out to make the voices of these girls heard — on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram — and all the other platforms that people have been using to express their concern and solidarity for their families,” she said.
Family members of the kidnapped girls formed makeshift search parties and ventured into the forest to find the girls, armed with homemade weapons, but they have not found the girls, whom they now fear have been sold into slavery.