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Angry Muslims Burn Down Newspaper Over Miss World Comment

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    NHNE News List Current Members: 748 Subscribe/unsubscribe/archive info at the bottom of this message. ... RIOTERS BURN NEWSPAPER OFFICE OVER MISS WORLD
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 21, 2002
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      Associated press / CNN
      Thursday, November 21, 2002


      LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) -- Rioters burned down a newspaper office Wednesday to
      protest an article suggesting the Prophet Muhammad might have favored
      marrying a contestant in the Miss World beauty pageant being hosted by

      The local editorial and circulations office of the daily ThisDay newspaper
      in the northern Nigerian city of Kaduna was destroyed in the fire, lit by a
      mob of angry Muslim demonstrators, police and newspaper officials said.

      Nobody was in the building when it was attacked, ThisDay editor Eniola Bello
      told The Associated Press.

      Newspaper staff in Kaduna have been put under police protection while
      hundreds of heavily armed security forces have been deployed to protect the
      national paper's offices in Kaduna and other cities in this West African
      nation of 120 million people, a police spokesman said.

      ThisDay was "taking very seriously" letters from several Muslim groups
      expressing outrage, Bello added.

      The Nigerian Muslim Umma, a group of Islamic scholars, declared a "serious
      religious emergency" on Wednesday and called on President Olusegun Obasanjo
      to both cancel the pageant and "sanction" the newspaper. Government
      officials were not immediately available to comment.

      "As a result of the indescribable pain caused to Muslims ... one cannot
      predict what can happen" if the pageant goes ahead, the group said in a
      statement that described Miss World as a "pungent display dehumanizing of

      The offending article, published Saturday under the title "The World at
      Their Feet," questioned why some Muslim groups condemn the pageant,
      scheduled for Dec. 8 in the capital of Abuja, on the grounds it promotes
      sexual promiscuity and indecency.

      "The Muslims thought it was immoral to bring ninety-two women to Nigeria and
      ask them to revel in vanity. What would Muhammad think? In all honesty, he
      would probably have chosen a wife from among them," the article's author,
      Isioma Daniel, wrote.

      Apology demanded

      The same issue had profiles and pictures of more than 60 Miss World
      contestants. More than 80 beauty queens from around the world are in the
      country for photo shoots and other preliminary events.

      On Monday, ThisDay carried a brief front page editor's note apologizing for
      "portions that may be considered offensive to ... our Muslim brothers." It
      said the material had been "published in error after being removed by the
      supervising editor."

      Several Nigerian Muslim groups, including the Nigerian Supreme Council of
      Islamic Affairs, the country's highest Muslim body, demanded a more complete
      apology and threatened boycotts and other unspecified measures of protest
      against ThisDay.

      "We Muslims do not provoke other people. But when we are provoked we do not
      rest until we deal with the offending agent," Datti Ahmad, president of
      Shariah in Nigeria, a group supporting the adoption of Islamic law, was
      quoted as saying by Abuja's Daily Trust newspaper.

      Ahmad added without elaborating: "Nobody will denigrate the holy Prophet of
      Islam and live in peace with Muslims."

      Later in the week, ThisDay plans to run a second apology as well as articles
      by Muslim columnists in an effort to appease critics, Bello said.

      The uproar is just the latest controversy to hit the Miss World pageant. The
      beauty contest has been boycotted by participants from at least five
      countries in protest at the sentencing of several Nigerian Muslim women to
      death by stoning for conceiving babies outside wedlock.

      The boycotting nations are Costa Rica, Denmark, Switzerland, South Africa
      and Panama. Contestants from several other countries, including Spain, have
      failed to show up for unspecified reasons.

      Nigeria's federal government has appealed for the boycott to end, insisting
      none of the judgments will ever be carried out. However the government has
      so far refused to intervene directly in the Islamic court system, adopted by
      a dozen predominantly northern states.

      Muslim protests earlier forced the Miss World organizers to postpone the
      grand finale until the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. At least one
      Muslim group has embarked on a campaign of "black prayers" wishing plagues
      of illness and bad luck upon organizers and participants.

      Miss World publicist Stella Din on Wednesday described the attack on ThisDay
      office as "deeply unfortunate," while stressing the Miss World pageant does
      not support any statements deemed offensive to Muslims. She said the pageant
      hoped to reach out to Muslims to explain it "is not aimed at promoting
      promiscuity or immorality."

      Miss World -- which competes for global television audiences with Miss
      Universe -- is popular in Asia and parts of sub-Saharan Africa and South


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