Nigeria Miss World strife goes on

CNN, Nov. 27, 2002
http://www.cnn.com/

KADUNA, Nigeria (CNN) –The threat of more sectarian strife hung over Nigeria after a northern state announced a fatwa decree urging Muslims to kill a reporter whose story on the Miss World pageant sparked deadly riots.

More than 200 people died in violence in the northern city of Kaduma over the story Muslims said blasphemed against the Prophet Mohammed. The contest was subsequently moved to London.

The city entered its sixth day under curfew on Wednesday.

The conservative state of Zamfara, the first of a dozen regional governments in the north to introduce strict Islamic Sharia law, said on Tuesday it had told Muslims in a fatwa judgment that it was their religious duty to kill Isioma Daniel, a young female reporter in her early 20s who wrote the story in Nigeria’s ThisDay daily newspaper.

Colleagues said the reporter had fled to the United States.

Zamfara, a largely rural state whose population is more than 90 percent Muslim, proclaimed Sharia soon after 15 years of military rule ended in Nigeria in 1999. Eleven other northern states followed.

Attempts to introduce Sharia in the more cosmopolitan neighbouring state of Kaduna sparked protests and riots from non-Muslims in which about 3,000 people died in February 2000.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, is home to about 129 million people from more than 250 ethnic groups, or tribes.

Its slight Muslim majority is concentrated in the north, where several states have operated under Sharia law since 2000, amid protests and violence. Many of Nigeria’s Christians oppose Sharia.

The December 7 Miss World pageant became the focus of controversy after some contestants said they would boycott the event after a Nigerian court upheld the pledged to quash Islamic stoning sentences.

“We restate that no person shall be condemned to death by stoning in Nigeria,” a government statement said.

Nigeria will invoke “its constitutional powers to thwart any negative ruling, which is deemed injurious to its people,” it said.

At least 11 people were killed in the northern state of Kaduna after it instituted Sharia last year.

In February 2000, Christians in the city of Kaduna marched to protest a Sharia proposal, and the ensuing riots left an estimated 200 people dead.

Meanwhile, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo said on Monday the media were responsible for the controversy over the Miss World pageant. (Full story (http://www.cnn.com/2002/WORLD/africa/11/26/riots.obasanjo/index.html))

The contest has been transferred to London and is due to be held on the same day it was planned in Nigeria, December 7.

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