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Sunday, 24 November, 2002, 11:35 GMT
Anger and bitterness haunt Kaduna
Soldiers secure a riot-affected area in Kaduna on Saturday
Hundreds have been killed and injured in the clashes

The world's beauty queens left Nigeria as they had arrived - surrounded by the tightest of security cordons, their experience in the country one that they are unlikely ever to forget.

Unwittingly they had stepped into a society grappling to deal with deep social and religious divisions.

Their arrival, combined with an article in a local newspaper which trivialised Muslim objections to the pageant, provoked bloody riots in the northern city of Kaduna which are only now beginning to subside.

Displaced woman
Thousands of residents have fled the violence
An international pageant many Nigerians had hoped would portray the country in a positive light has done quite the reverse.

It is left now for Nigeria's leaders - both within government and at the local level - to search for ways to heal the wounds exposed by this tragic sequence of events.

Even now, thousands of its citizens in Kaduna have fled their homes, seeking refuge from the killing and hatred that has engulfed their city.

'Terrible things'

Leaders on both sides have been calling for calm.

But the anger and bitterness is evident in the voices of those caught up in the violence.

Kaduna mosque
The city is deemed the capital for Nigerian Muslims
One Muslim man told me: "This was a peaceful protest by Muslims, hijacked by thugs.

"Terrible things have been done here in the name of Islam," he added.

Christians too feel angry.

It is the fault of those - I was told by a Christian - who have brought radical Islam to Nigeria.

They belong, he said, not to the modern world, but to the stone age.

These comments provide an idea of the huge divide between the two communities.

Each will find the other's words deeply offensive.


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21 Nov 02 | Africa
09 Nov 02 | Africa
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