Kano Muslims tell Christians to live with Sharia or leave

 KANO, Nigeria, 3 March 2000 (Newsroom) -- Christians and other
 non-Muslims living in Kano state in northern Nigeria who cannot cope
 with the Sharia legal system should leave the state, a Muslim group has

 "Non Muslims should understand the fact that Sharia has permanently
 come to stay and even the National Council of States headed by
 President Olusegun Obasanjo has no right to stop its implementation in
 the state," Ibrahim Datti Ahmed of Muslim Ummah said at a press
 conference last week in the city of Kano.

 "If non-Muslims cannot stay in the state because of the existence of
 Sharia law, they can immediately vacate the place and move to other
 places of their interest," said Datti, a former presidential aspirant during a
 previous period of democracy in Nigeria.

 Islamic law (Sharia), which triggered religious riots in Kaduna in
 northwest Nigeria two weeks ago, was signed into law in Kano state on
 Wednesday. More than 300 people were killed in the Kaduna clash.
 Sharia is permitted under Nigeria's constitution for family law. Eight
 northern states, however, decided to implement Islamic or Sharia penal
 law as well, which many Nigerians consider unconstitutional. Sharia
 permits flogging, amputation and beheading for certain crimes.

 Lawsuits challenging the legality of Sharia have been filed in federal court
 in Lagos and in Zamfara state court.

 Kano's adoption of Islamic law came barely 24 hours after the National
 Council of States (NCS) agreed to suspend the implementation of Sharia
 law in the northern part of the country. The NCS is composed of the
 president, vice president, all 36 state governors and former heads of
 state. Two former Muslim heads of states contend that the NSC did not
 suspend Sharia, although some Muslim governors told reporters after the
 meeting that they had agreed not to implement Islamic law.

 Federal officials insist that the council did suspend Sharia law.

 Niger state has suspended the adoption of Sharia in compliance with the
 Tuesday agreement. Zamfara state, the first to introduce Islamic law,
 now says it will proceed as planned originally.

 Muslim Ummah, an influential Islamic organization from Kano, warned
 that "any attempt to reject Sharia will be rejected with all the legal force
 at our command as free citizens of democratic Nigeria. In Nigeria, the
 freedom of movement and of choice are protected by the constitution.
 So if any individual feels too uncomfortable with any set-up established
 by the majority in any state, he has the right to choose another state
 which he sees as a more congenial set-up to live in happily."

 Already many Christian non-indigenes are moving back to their states of
 origin in the south to avoid being attacked by Islamic militants. Kano, the
 economic capital of northern Nigeria has a history of religious riots, with
 Christians usually the victims.

 Apart from Kano, Christians in a majority of the northern states continue
 to live in fear despite assurances by state governors that they will be
 protected. Many non-indigenes who cannot return to the south have
 taken refuge in military barracks.


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