Kaduna (Nigeria), Nov. 28 (Reuters): Nigeria’s supreme Islamic body said today Muslims should ignore a fatwa issued by a northern state calling for the death of a journalist whose article on the Miss World pageant sparked bloody riots.
The statement by the Jama’atu Nasril Islam was circulated as President Olusegun Obasanjo faced angry church leaders in the riot-torn city of Kaduna who said most of the more than 200 dead in the unrest were Christian.
Conservative Zamfara state issued the fatwa against Isioma Daniel, a female journalist in her early 20s, whose article on the Miss World pageant enraged Muslims. The Kaduna office of her newspaper ThisDay was razed by irate Muslim youths at the start of the riots on November 20. “The Zamfara state government has no authority to issue fatwa and the fatwa issued by it should be ignored,” the statement said.
The story in ThisDay angered Muslims by suggesting the Prophet Mohammed would have approved of Miss World and possibly married one of the contestants.
The rioting triggered by the report led to the beauty pageant being hurriedly moved to the UK. More than 3,000 people died in Kaduna in two bouts of Muslim-Christian clashes in February and May 2000 over plans to introduce Mulsim sharia there, in Nigeria’s worst sectarian upheaval.