100 Die in Nigerian Riot over Miss World Article

International television programs are not yet universally accepted in Nigeria. Conservative Muslims have shown serious misgivings about the upcoming world beauty pageant soon to be hosted in their capital city. The nation’s leading newspaper struck a discordant note when it published an article suggesting that Prophet Mohammed desired to marry a Miss World beauty queen. Subsequently, Muslim youths burned the newspaper’s office in Kaduna, igniting violent riots that turned into a religious battle between rival Muslim and Christian communities, leaving at least 100 dead and 521 injured. - YaleGlobal

100 Die in Nigerian Riot over Miss World Article

Friday, November 22, 2002

LAGOS -- Rioting between Muslims and Christians in the northern Nigerian city of Kaduna has claimed at least 100 lives, the Red Cross said on Nov 22, as local leaders tried to calm anger over an article on the Miss World pageant.

Federal officials were in Kaduna for crisis talks with local religious leaders, who have appealed for calm following three days of bloody disturbances in the flashpoint city, state spokesman Muktar Sirajo said.

The fighting was triggered on Nov 20 when Muslim youths burned down a newspaper office in protest at a 'blasphemous' article which suggested that the Prophet Mohammed would have liked to marry a Miss World beauty queen.

The international pageant is due to take place in the Nigerian capital Abuja on Dec 7, and the presence of the 90 beauty queens in the country has offended the conservative sensibilities of many Muslims.

But since the fighting started in Kaduna, the riots have degenerated into a street battle between parts of the city's rival Muslim and Christian communities.

A spokesman for the Nigerian Red Cross was unable to confirm the death toll, but said at least 521 injured people have been evacuated by volunteer medical teams to city hospitals.

On Nov 22, an influential panel of moderate Muslim scholars described the Miss World contest as 'a wanton promotion of immorality through nudity' and called on Nigeria's President Olusegun Obasanjo to ban it from going ahead.

The government has yet to respond to that call, but it has vowed to prosecute the leading daily newspaper, This Day, for the article last weekend that caused the tensions to boil over.

The newspaper has carried four front-page apologies and insisted that the offending section for the article -- an otherwise inoffensive preview of the pageant -- appeared accidentally after an editorial error.

Copyright © 2002 Singapore Press Holdings