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Amityville train station rally supports kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls

People rallied today at the Amityville Long Island

People rallied today at the Amityville Long Island Rail Road station protesting the abduction of hundreds of young girls in Nigeria by the terrorist group Boko Haram, May 18, 2014. Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan

Long Islanders lent their voices to the growing global chorus demanding the safe return of 270 kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls with a boisterous rally Sunday in Amityville.

"Enough is enough! Bring back our girls!" chanted many in the crowd of nearly 100 gathered outside the Amityville Long Island Rail Road station.

The rally was held to show solidarity with the schoolgirls who were kidnapped by the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram.

Their whereabouts is still unknown despite a video released by the group showing the distressed girls in captivity.

Yesterday's event was coordinated by the Long Island Bring Back Our Girls Coalition, a group of church and community leaders who have vowed to keep a spotlight on the kidnappings and Boko Haram's activities.

"As Long Islanders we need to use our freedom to speak on behalf of the weak," said Pastor Laolu Akande of the Jesus Friends Assembly church in Bay Shore.

Saturday, Akande and representatives from several other Long Island churches announced the formation of the group and Sunday's rally.

Akande also serves as the executive director of the Christian Association of Nigerian-Americans, a Bay Shore group he started in 2012.

Bola Oshikanlu, 50, a native Nigerian living in Amityville, told the crowd they had to do more than rely on the social media campaign #bringbackourgirls. They also need to speak up and press Nigerian government officials, Oshikanlu said.

"Do not just go home and do hashtags," she said. "We must do more. Our voices must be heard. The Nigerian government has to hear our voice."

Patricia Maher, of East Meadow who is running against Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) for the 2nd Congressional District, also spoke at the rally, saying the United Nations should place an economic embargo against Nigeria to compel the government to act against Boko Haram.

"A UN sanction is a very good idea," Maher said. "It would show cohesive international action."

Bukola Oreofe, an Amityville resident who leads the advocacy group Nigerian Democratic Liberty Forum, said he attended the rally and will remain involved with the issue because every time he is enjoying time with his family his mind drifts thinking about "those girls crying in the wilderness who are asking, praying, for our help to save them."

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