JIDDAH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Top religious scholars working under the world's largest bloc of Islamic countries said Thursday they strongly condemn the kidnapping of more than 270 Nigerian schoolgirls, calling for their immediate release.
The kidnappings three weeks ago by the extremist group Boko Haram have led to worldwide condemnation. The group's leader has used Islamic teachings as justification for threatening to sell the girls into slavery.
The Islamic Fiqh Academy, which is based in Saudi Arabia and dedicated to the advanced study of Islam, said that this "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 Quran and Sunnah," or teachings of the Prophet Muhammad.
The academy is part of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which is comprised of some 57 Muslim majority member-nations.
OIC Secretary-General Iyad Madani issued a statement in mid-April stressing the importance of girls' education and the role of women in Islam. The organization has called for the girls' release and safe return, and reiterated its stance against extremism, terrorism and prejudices against women.
"There was no excuse whatsoever for this criminal action which tarnishes the good image of Islam, a tolerant and moderate religion that rejects extremism in all its forms and manifestations," Madani said.
Muslims around the world have spoken out against the kidnappings.