Egypt's Al-Azhar mosque has issued a statement on Tuesday demanding that the Nigerian Islamist extremist group, Boko Haram release schoolgirls it kidnapped from their dormitories on 15 April, denouncing the threats of the militant groups to sell the girls as slaves.
"This action does not relate to the noble teachings of Islam in any way. Al-Azhar demands the release of these girls immediately" said Al-Azhar’s statement.
Al-Azhar is considered to be among the oldest and most credible Sunni institutions of higher learning in the world and is highly regarded both in Africa as well the Islamic world
Last Monday, Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Boko Haram, a group that has killed thousands in a five-year uprising, claimed responsibility for the kidnappings.
In a video message, Shekau said the group was holding the girls as "slaves" and would "sell (them) in the market.
A total of 276 girls were kidnapped when Boko Haram stormed their school at night and loaded them onto trucks. While some of the girls managed to escape, but more than 220 others are still being held captive, according to police.