Muslim group threatens to kill ThisDay staff

AFP, Dec. 4, 2002

Lagos – A previously unknown Muslim group has threatened to kill 16 Nigerian journalists at a daily newspaper that carried an allegedly blasphemous article on the Miss World contest.

Mainstream Muslim groups have forgiven the newspaper ThisDay for the report, which offended many Muslims by suggesting that the Prophet Muhammad might have enjoyed the Miss World contest and married one of the contestants.

The controversial report sparked sectarian riots in Kaduna, a city in northern Nigeria, that left 220 people dead and fuelled Muslim opposition to the contest.

The riots prompted the Miss World organisers to abandon plans to stage the contest in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, and to move it to London.

But some fundamentalist groups remain angry about the article.

ThisDay’s managing director, Victor Ifijeh, has confirmed a report in another daily that a group calling itself the Movement Against Attack on Prophet Mohammed had sent a threatening letter.

“I’ve seen the letter – I saw it yesterday. That’s all I want to say,” said Ifijeh.

According to the Post Express, the group named and threatened 16 ThisDay journalists, including Ifijeh, with having their heads cut off or limbs amputated.

The Post Express quoted the letter as saying: “Arrangements have been made to launch an attack on the following reporters whom we considered accomplices to the offence committed by the lady who fronts them.”

This is understood to be a reference to style reporter Sharia in Nigeria, claimed that his arrest on Friday had been an attempt to cover up for the governor’s bungled handling of the riots.

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