NEW YORK: A heavily pregnant Alicia Keys joined a small group of protesters outside the Nigerian consulate in New York on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila) demanding the release of more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram.
“Bring back our girls now,” shouted the small crowd, led by the Grammy-winning 33-year-old New York RnB singer-songwriter, who wore jeans and wrapped her hair in a black scarf, on the sixth-month anniversary of their abduction.
“Today is my son’s birthday, so I stand in solidarity with the mothers of the Chibok girls,” Keys told Agence France-Presse of the northeastern Nigerian town where the girls were snatched on April 14.
The star, who has sold more than 30 million singles across the world and is expecting her second child in December, held up “#bring back our girls NOW” signs with the others.
“It is so atrocious and horrible, the fact they have been gone for six months and have not been found,” Keys said, adding that it was vital for people to keep up the pressure for their release.
“It is important now more than ever because it is that pivotal six months time,” she said. “It is too long.”
“Nigeria needs to find these girls,” she said. “We as an international community have to support them finding these girls.”
Keys, who recently set up a movement called “We Are Here” to fight for greater social justice, said the world must show solidarity.
“These girls represent so much. They represent girls who are kept from education, they represent girls who are treated as property, they represent girls who are raped and have to live in violence as a weapon of war,” she told Agence France-Presse.
Among the some 40 demonstrators was Eva, who refused to give her second name but who stopped off during her lunch break.
“I had not realized it was already six months. How is it possible? We can find terrorists but we cannot find 200 girls?”
In Nigeria, police on Tuesday blocked supporters of the 219 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram militants from marching on the president’s official residence.