Nigerian States Are Urged to Enforce Islamic Law

Some Muslims Demand Stricter Compliance With Shariah

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KANO, Nigeria, APR. 25, 2001 ( Nigeria´s top Islamic council assailed northern states for not enforcing strict Islamic law after adopting it as law, Reuters reports.

The National Council of Ulamas declared that Zamfara was the only one among six northern states to apply the Muslim law correctly.

Last January, Zamfara was the object of international protests for sentencing a 17-year-old girl to 100 lashes, for being pregnant out of wedlock. The girl said the pregnancy was the result of rape.

Sheikh Umar Ibrahim Kabo, president of the Council of Ulamas of the state of Kano, said that most of the states are enforcing a «caricature» of the law to attract the votes of Muslim followers, but the law does not affect the life of non-Muslims. «They have been hypocritical about it,» Kabo said during a meeting of Islamic scholars.

Praising the successes of Zamfara, the group appealed for the full and immediate enforcement of the Shariah in all the states that adopted the code.

The participants in the meeting, which was organized by the Independent Hisba of the state of Kano — which calls itself the police of the Shariah — did not say what they would do if state governments fail to apply the Islamic law. The Ulamas said that, although some states were beginning to prohibit alcohol, betting and prostitution, they turned a blind eye to other practices such as begging and the black market.

The move to enforce the Shariah has created difficulties in parts of Nigeria, whose population of more than 110 million includes a great number of Christians and animists.

In the past, Catholic President Olusegun Obasanjo, of southern Nigeria, has condemned the enforcement of the Shariah. When the Shariah was established in Kaduna, Monsignor John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan said that «the problem is that there [are some] who fan the fire to destroy democracy. There are circles that do not like the policy of President Obasanjo, and they use the religious problem to get him into difficulty.»

«Those anti-Obasanjo circles have contacts abroad and use the problem of the Shariah to anger spirits,» Monsignor Onaiyekan added. «It is no accident that the ambassador of Saudi Arabia attended the ceremony to introduce the Shariah in Zamfara, yet there was no representative of the Nigerian central government. Everyone knows that Saudi Arabia has promised economic aid to the states that establish the Islamic law. Yet previously, it never helped Nigeria.»

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