Groups of Muslim demonstrators in Nigeria’s northern Kaduna State staged violent protests on Wednesday and Thursday over what they deemed an offensive reference to the Prophet Mohammed by a national daily, residents said.
Residents said more than 500 angry people invaded the office of "Thisday" daily on Wednesday morning and set it ablaze. No one was reported injured. The violence continued on Thursday with the burning of some churches and damaging of cars by the protesters.
"Yesterday the Kaduna office was burned down. Today several churches have been set alight in the mainly Muslim areas of the city," Jonah Bako, a resident, told IRIN.
The protesters were apparently angered by a report in Thisday's Saturday edition on the Miss World Beauty contest being hosted by Nigeria. The report contained a comment dismissing Muslim opposition to the contest by suggesting Prophet Mohammed would have probably chosen one of the beauty queens as a wife.
Thisday subsequently ran front-page apologies to Muslims saying the comments were published in error after they had been removed by the supervising editor.
But the anger appeared to have deepened after clerics condemned
the newspaper at mosques and urged prayers for its downfall. Residents of Kaduna said vendors have since stopped displaying Thisday for sale.
Tension has since mounted in the city, populated by roughly equal numbers of Muslims and non-Muslims. Policemen deployed to the streets in large numbers to stop the violence from further escalating fought with angry mobs throwing stones and bottles. Unconfirmed reports said a number of people had been killed.
More than 2,000 people died in the city in 2000 in clashes between Muslims and Christians over an attempt by the state government to introduce strict Islamic law.
A dozen states in Nigeria’s predominantly Muslim north have introduced the strict Islamic or Shar’iah legal code in the past three years.
The Miss World contest has been steeped in controversy as a result of across the world for a boycott in protest against the sentencing to death of a woman, Amina Lawal, for having a baby out of wedlock. More than 90 contestants arrived in Nigeria last week to start the contest after the Nigerian federal government gave assurances it would not allow the stoning sentences to be carried out.
Many Muslims have expressed anger that the contest, describing it as "a parade of nudity" and offensive to their religious sensibilities. The contestants are currently on a tour of the mainly Christian south, while the contest itself is scheduled for 7 December in the capital, Abuja.
There were fears that the violence in kaduna might spread to
the volatile city of Kano and other mainly Muslim towns farther
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions
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