First lady 'heartbroken' by kidnapped Nigerians

First lady Michelle Obama took over the weekly address from her husband Saturday, delivering a Mother’s Day message while voicing solidarity with the nearly 300 schoolgirls kidnapped in Nigeria.

The White House has taken up the cause of the young women abducted by Boko Haram, a radical Islamist group that has threatened to sell them into slavery because they were trying to advance their education.

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“Like millions of people across the globe, my husband and I are outraged and heartbroken over the kidnapping of more than 200 Nigerian girls from their school dormitory in the middle of the night,” Obama said. “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.” 

President Obama has dispatched a search team of military advisers and law enforcement personnel to help find the girls. On Capitol Hill, lawmakers in both parties have condemned the kidnappings, and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said Friday the House would take up a resolution honoring the girls and act on legislation to combat human trafficking after it returns from a weeklong recess.

“In these girls, Barack and I see our own daughters,” the first lady said. “We see their hopes, their dreams – and we can only imagine the anguish their parents are feeling right now.”

Obama said the kidnappings were “not an isolated incident” and compared their plight to that of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl who was shot in the head on a school bus with her classmates.

“But fortunately Malala survived,” Obama said, “and when I met her last year, I could feel her passion and determination as she told me that girls’ education is still her life’s mission. 

“As Malala said in her address to the United Nations, she said ‘The terrorists thought that they would change our aims and stop our ambitions but nothing changed in my life except this: Weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born.’

“The courage and hope embodied by Malala and girls like her around the world should serve as a call to action,” Obama said.

“Education,” the first lady added, “ is truly a girl’s best chance for a bright future, not just for herself, but for her family and her nation.”

Obama said the girls kidnapped in Nigeria “embody the best hope for the future of our world…and we are committed to standing up for them not just in times of tragedy or crisis, but for the long haul.”