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Reporters Without Borders Reacts to Nigerian Fatwa - 2002-11-26


A state in northern Nigeria has issued an Islamic death sentence, or fatwa, against the author of an article that sparked rioting over the Miss World beauty contest.

An official in mostly Muslim Zamfara State said the principles of Islam dictate that anyone who insults the prophet Mohammed be sentenced to death. The author, Isioma Daniel, wrote an article in a Nigerian newspaper suggesting the prophet would have chosen a Miss World contestant to be his wife.

The article triggered violent clashes between Muslims and Christians that killed more than 200 people. Nigeria was set to hold the beauty pageant, but it has since been moved to London.

Jeff Julliard is head of the Africa Desk of Reporters Without Borders in Paris. He told English to Africa reporter Kim Lewis that no one should have to undergo a sentence such as the “Fatwa”. Mr. Julliard also said perhaps it was not responsible on the part of the journalist to make suggestions regarding Mohammed choosing a contestant to be his wife, given the fact that Northern Nigeria is predominantly Muslim.

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