Bring Back Our Girls rally in Parramatta

About 70 people attended the Bring Back Our Girls rally for the 276 kidnapped girls at St John's Park at Parramatta on Saturday. Picture: Helen Nezdropa.

About 70 people attended the Bring Back Our Girls rally for the 276 kidnapped girls at St John's Park at Parramatta on Saturday. Picture: Helen Nezdropa.

Forty-seven days since the abduction of 276 Nigerian schoolgirls, about 70 people marched in Parramatta with pink cardboard signs emblazoned with messages of solidarity for the missing.

The Bring Back Our Girls rally at St John’s Park on Saturday afternoon formed part of a global campaign launched in the wake of the April 14 mass kidnapping by Muslim separatists Boko Haram.

Nigerian Association of NSW secretary general Olayinka Fareo said the rally was aimed at raising awareness of the plight of the kidnapped girls and to generate support at an international level.

‘‘Everyone is on the same page, we’re all fighting the same cause,’’ Mrs Fareo said. ‘‘Religion should be about love, not about harming each other.’’

She said the event began with a prayer session before members of the community aired opinions about the mass abduction.

‘‘People who were just passing by stopped and were happy to join, even non-Africans ... even the children were holding banners,’’ she said. ‘‘I think the western governments are doing all they can, but this rally was more of a reminder that this is still ongoing and to please help.’’

Mrs Fareo, whose own daughter marched at the event, criticised Boko Haram’s stance against western education and specifically its stance against the education of women and girls.

‘‘You can’t stop education for any reason ... if you just go into a school and abduct girls because you don’t want them to have an education, that’s very sick. It’s bizarre — not in this age and time.’’

A letter of thanks was presented at the rally to  Parramatta MP Julie Owens to deliver to Prime Minister Tony Abbott this week.

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