“Don’t sell our girls,” more celebrities plead

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From Angelina Jolie and Michelle Obama in the international scene to a slew of Nigerian entertainers in the local scene, the world has been riveted and responsive to the terrorist abduction of over 200 school girls in the North East of Nigeria. Some of the nation’s leading celebrities on Friday joined in the call for the release of the school girls abducted from their school over three weeks ago by the now universally reviled Boko Haram.

Bankole Wellington, popularly known as “Banky W’’ told NAN that the return of the girls was not subject to negotiation.

“We want our girls back. The issue at stake is the whereabouts and the restoration of those poor little girls to their respective parents.

“But is that possible after over three weeks of abduction by terrorists? We just have to keep our fingers crossed,” he said.

Actress Kate Henshaw, said that the abduction of the innocent girls was wickedness of the highest order.

“No one can fool God; no one can challenge God. Anybody who tries to fight against God loves death. Boko Haram at the moment, is trying to attack God by kidnapping His beloved daughters and talking rubbish,” Henshaw said.

In the same vein musician Sound Sultan said that “the Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, is just being stupid and satanic. Shekau in his demonic lies against Allah said that it was God that instructed him to sell human beings as slaves.”

Actress Bimbo Akintola, said that “we need all hands on deck. The problem is that with the girls in Boko Haram’s custody, they would be used as human shields.

“But nightmares like this will always come to an end, no matter what, as God will expose them. All of them will regret their acts,” she said.

On the international scene, the subject of slavery has ignited a social media campaign #RealMenDontBuyGirls. The Twitter hashtag has been tweeted thousands of times in the past few days in connection with the abducted girls in Nigeria. It’s reported that Hollywood celebrities have endorsed the campaign, but things are not exactly as they first appear.

#RealMenDontBuyGirls is trending in the US, Nigeria, Spain, the UK and elsewhere, and the vast majority of tweets call for the release of the kidnapped girls. It’s being used widely together with #BringBackOurGirls, which has now been tweeted more than 1.6 million times globally.

Just as with #BringBackOurGirls, many of the tweets include images of celebrities holding signs – in this case saying, “Real Men Don’t Buy Girls”. Images of Sean Penn, Justin Timberlake, Ashton Kutcher, Jamie Foxx and others are being widely shared right now. But – and it’s quite a big but – many of these celebrity images date back as far as three years ago. The Real Men Don’t Buy campaign was started in 2011 by Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore to fight trafficking – particularly of children – into the sex trade. It featured a series of YouTube videos with celebrities.

So how did it get linked with the case of the abducted girls in Nigeria? The first use of the hashtag on Twitter in this context was on 2 May 2014, by a woman who appears to be based in New Jersey in the US. After news emerged that Boko Haram militants were threatening to sell the girls, the hashtag took off. And as far as can be established, the old images from the previous campaign were widely re-posted and shared – not by the celebrities or the campaign itself, but by regular Twitter users in Nigeria, the US and elsewhere. These tweets were in turn picked up by influential tweeters, and then by mainstream media. Images posted on social media are, of course, often taken out of their original context. This is a helpful guide to verification of images.

The re-adoption of the #RealMenDontBuyGirls campaign highlights just how strong global sentiment now is concerning events in Nigeria. An online “social media march” is taking place on Thursday, with people urged to spend 200 minutes on social media to support of the missing girls.

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