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.
Also on Thursday, the OIC's Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission said Boko Haram is misguided to claim that the abduction of the girls and the threat to sell them off as slaves is in conformity with the injunctions of Islam. The rights body described the abduction of the schoolgirls as a "barbaric act".
"Right to education is a fundamental human right, and is in consonance with the basic tenets of Islam," the rights body said.
Muslims around the world have spoken out against the kidnappings.