London, Jan. 19: The journalist who sparked last year’s Miss World riots in Nigeria has spoken for the first time about her ordeal.
Isioma Daniel, 21, said she felt “guilty” as well as “angry and upset” that the comments she made in a newspaper last November provoked the unrest which left more than 220 people dead.
Daniel was forced to flee after the Islamist state government in northern Nigeria issued a fatwa urging Muslims to kill her.
The furore was caused by an article for the national ThisDay newspaper in which Daniel claimed that the Prophet Mohammed would not have complained about the Miss World contest and “would probably have chosen a wife” from one of the contestants.
The comments triggered three days of religious rioting and the Miss World pageant eventually had to be relocated to London, where it was held on 7 December.
Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, Daniel admitted she felt “guilty” but said Nigeria’s politicians also had to shoulder part of the blame.
“I felt very guilty that something I had written had caused all this havoc. But my guilt sort of went away. I felt angry. When I heard about the fatwa I just got even angrier. It was completely unnecessary and ridiculous.
“The politicians seemed to show more remorse for losing the Miss World pageant to London than for the fact that Nigerians were killed.”
Daniel also spoke of her life in hiding, in an unidentified Western country. “I’m very careful,” she said. “I don’t let anybody know who I am or why I’m here.”