Terrified Miss World contestants were preparing to fly into Britain today after 100 people were killed and 500 injured during three days of rioting over the pageant in Nigeria. Organisers decided to cancel the global contest in the interests of all concerned after fighting broke out in the northern city of Kaduna before spreading to Abuja, the country’s capital, and the venue for this year’s pageant. (AFP photo)...
Miss World pageant offends Islam: over 100 die and 500 are injured
There is nothing more deadly than a religious war. When religious fundamentalists determine that their foundering father or their God has been disparaged then death is soon to follow.
Because of a newspaper article that suggested that Muhammad would have chosen a wife from the Miss World beauty pageant, over 100 people died.
The lesson to be learned is that George Warmonger Bush needs to be very careful in his attempts to kill bin-Laden and Saddam lest he do or say something that would flame up the entire world population of Muslims. If he does that, then there will no doubt be a Christian - Muslim war raging across the planet.
The Muslims and the Hindus in India have fought similar battles over shrines that were once Hindu and then Muslim and then Hindu again. Human life becomes meaningless when one's God is disparaged.
50 die in Miss World riots
Nigeria: More than 50 people were stabbed, bludgeoned or burned to death today during violent demonstrations in the northern city of Kaduna.
They were triggered by a newspaper article suggesting Islam's founding prophet might have chosen a wife from among contestants in the Miss World beauty pageant in Nigeria.
At least 200 others were seriously injured and four churches were torched, Nigerian Red Cross president Emmanuel Ijewere told The Associated Press.
Many of the bodies were taken by Red Cross workers and other volunteers to local mortuaries. But many more remained inside homes that were set alight by the demonstrators, Ijewere said.
"A lot of people died. We don't know yet exactly how many ... more than 50," he said.
Shehu Sani of the Kaduna-based Civil Rights Congress said he watched a crowd stab one young man, then force a tyre filled with petrol around his neck and burn him alive. Sani said he saw three other bodies elsewhere in the city.
Alsa Hassan, founder of another human rights group, Alsa Care, said he saw a commuter being dragged out of his car and beaten to death by protesters.
Schools and shops hurriedly closed this morning as hordes of young men, shouting "Allahu Akhbar," or "God is great," ignited makeshift street barricades made of tyres and garbage, sending plumes of black smoke rising above the city.
Others were heard chanting, "Down with beauty" and "Miss World is sin".
Hundreds of police and soldiers were deployed to restore calm. Riding in utility trucks, they fired tear gas at protesters marching through otherwise abandoned streets waving tree branches and palm fronds.
State government officials declared a curfew of 6pm to 6am.
A businessman, Lateef Mohammed, said he saw young men smashing the windows of two small churches in Badarawa, a predominantly Muslim area. Two other witnesses interviewed separately gave similar accounts.
"I just rushed to get to my home. It was very tense," Mohammed said by telephone.
Previous riots in Kaduna, a largely Muslim city with a sizable Christian minority, have escalated into religious battles that killed hundreds since civilian government replaced military rule in 1999.
The latest demonstrations began yesterday with the burning of an office of This Day newspaper in Kaduna.
This Day had published an article questioning the reasoning of Muslim groups that have condemned the Miss World pageant, to be held on December 7 in the Nigerian capital, Abuja.
Muslim groups say the pageant promotes sexual promiscuity and indecency.
"What would (the prophet) Muhammad think? In all honesty, he would probably have chosen a wife from among them (the contestants)," Isioma Daniel wrote in Saturday's article.
The Nigerian Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs, the country's highest Muslim body, has urged President Olusegun Obasanjo to cancel the pageant and sanction the newspaper.
Other Muslim groups have called for boycotts and other unspecified actions against the publication.
An influential fundamentalist Muslim cleric in the northern city of Kano, Karibullah Nasiru Kabara, warned today that he and other leaders would only "appeal to the people not to take the law into their own hands" if the government punishes the newspaper's editors and calls off the pageant.
"When we say 'Stop it,' the people stop it. When we say 'Do this,' the people do the same," Kabara said.
On Monday, This Day ran a brief front-page apology for sections considered offensive to Muslims, which it said had been mistakenly published after being removed by the supervising editor. The newspaper ran a second, more lengthy retraction and apology today.
Islamic fundamentalist groups have for several months warned of protests against the Miss World pageant, prompting organisers to postpone the finale until after the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
Participants from at least five countries are boycotting the pageant because Islamic courts in Nigeria have sentenced several unmarried women to death by stoning for conceiving babies outside wedlock. Nigeria's government insists none of the judgments will be carried out, although it has refused to intervene directly.
Miss World publicist Stella Din said pageant organisers hoped calm would quickly return to Kaduna.
"We are very, very sad that it has come to this - even if there is a loss of one life, it makes us sad. We are appealing to all to please exercise restraint," Din said.
Miss World Contenders Head for Britain after Nigeria Bloodbath
By Paul Sims, PA News
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