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Friday, 24 November, 2000, 23:23 GMT
Nigerians in mass protest against Israel
map showing Sharia states in Nigeria
By Barnaby Phillips in Kaduna

An estimated crowd of 100,000 people has marched in the northern Nigerian state of Zamfara in support of the Palestinians and in condemnation of Israel.

The population of northern Nigeria is mainly Muslim and the ongoing violence in the Middle East has aroused strong emotions.

Muslims travelled from across northern Nigeria and beyond to attend the rally in the town of Gusau, the capital of Zamfara State.

Mourner at funeral of Hamas activist in West Bank town of Nablus
The Palestinians' plight has drawn sympathy from Muslims worldwide

Zamfara was the first Nigerian state to introduce a complete Islamic - or Sharia - legal code, and its governor, Ahmed Sani, has sought to boost his popularity through supporting Islamic causes.

Although officially the march on Friday was organised by non-governmental Islamic groups, in fact the Zamfara government played an important role behind the scenes.

Fund for weapons

Governor Sani said he was setting up a fund to assist the Palestinians to buy weapons and other equipment in order to "liberate their land". The governor said he was donating five months of his own salary to the fund.

The governor was speaking to a huge crowd which gathered outside his residence after marching from a central square.

The crowd burned US and Israeli flags and chanted slogans in condemnation of those two countries, as well as other Western nations such as the UK and Germany.

Anti-Israel marches have already been held in northern Nigeria's largest city, Kano, albeit not on this scale.

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13 Oct 00 | Africa
US closes African embassies
10 Aug 00 | Africa
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21 Jun 00 | Africa
Analysis: Sharia takes hold
21 Jun 00 | Africa
The many faces of Sharia
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