Muslim leaders have stepped up to condemn the abduction of Nigerian school girls by the terrorist group Boko Haram. Specifically, the leaders are criticizing Boko Haram for using religion to justify taking the girls and selling them into slavery.

Egyptian Religious Endowments Minister Mohammed Mohktar Gomaa told the Associated Press that "[t]he actions by Boko Haram are pure terrorism, with no relation to Islam, especially the kidnapping of the girls."

Sheik Ahmed el-Tayeb, president of al-Azhar University in Cairo, agreed, saying the abductions “completely contradict Islam and its principles of tolerance.”

The condemnations by prominent religious leaders could help isolate Boko Haram from potential audiences for its extreme Islamist message. The group has claimed its actions are justified by Islamic law.

Many prominent journalists in Muslim-majority countries joined in the condemnation.

Mahir Ali, a columnist for the English-language newspaper Dawn in Pakistan, offered hope that the tragedy would make the Nigerian government take action against Boko Haram.

“The popular upsurge in Nigeria in the wake of the latest unspeakable atrocity provides some scope for hoping that the state will finally act decisively to obliterate the growing menace,” Ali said.

An editorial in the Jakarta Post in Indonesia also criticized Boko Haram for "wrongly" using Islam as the basis for the abductions.

"It is saddening that religion is misused to terrorize people and to kill the future leaders of the world," the Post wrote.