Plea to stop Nigeria pageant boycott

BBC, Nov. 12, 2002

A Nigerian Muslim woman under sentence of death by stoning has asked participants not to boycott the Miss World contest to be held on 7 December.

The pageant has been threatened by a large-scale boycott by beauty queens protesting the punishment against

But speaking as some 80 contestants arrived in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, Ms Lawal said a lot of resources had gone into organising the pageant and it should go ahead.

The Nigerian Government, desperate to play down the controversy surrounding Ms Lawal’s sentence, has given assurances that it would intervene to save her once the legal process has been exhausted.

No pressure

However, Ms Lawal says she has not been contacted by government officials who have been promising to use the federal constitution to squash her conviction.

She also said she has not been pressurised into speaking against the boycott.

She told reporters: ” I heard of the boycott threat, but I just think they should come because nothing happens without God’s permission”.

The Associated Press news agency said at least five Miss World contestants from Costa Rica, Denmark, Switzerland, South Africa and Panama have not shown up.

Black prayers

Kenya, which initially said it would stay away from the competition, later sent a representative.

The contest has also been denounced by Muslim groups, who are upset that part of the pageant is being held during the holy month of Ramadan

An official of one Muslim group in the city of Gusau said protesters were planning “black prayers” and a “spread of plagues of curses and bad luck on the Miss World organisers and participants”.

Organisers have said participants would not attend any function in the Muslim north of the country.

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