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Monday, 13 August, 2001, 10:17 GMT 11:17 UK
Beer row in northern Nigeria
By Amina Waziri Ibrahim in Kano

The burning of a lorry load of alcohol in Kano in northern Nigeria at the end of last week has revealed tensions in how Islamic law is being implemented in the state.


The government have never categorically stated that the sale of alcohol is prohibited in this area

Hotel owner
A group called itself the Independent Sharia Implementation Committee has emerged accusing Kano state officials of not supporting Sharia and sabotaging its implementation.

It is particularly upset with the government for not being serious in banning the consumption and sale of alcohol in Kano and on Friday they seized and destroyed a consignment of alcohol worth almost $10,000.

More than 600 crates of assorted beer were burnt down in front of more than 500 ISIC members wearing green uniforms.

The coordinator of the ISIC, Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim, said they had refused to hand over the seized truck to police as normal because in the past alcohol had been returned to its owners.

Anger

The police said that to the best of their knowledge every case of seized alcohol had been handed over to police headquarters and taken to court.

Kano crowd
Huge crowds welcomed the introduction of Sharia in Kano
The truck full of alcohol had been sent from a brewery in Kaduna destined for a hotel in Sabon Gari district, an area occupied mostly by Christians.

The manager of the hotel said he had never had his supplies of alcohol seized before and was angry because he had been told that Sharia law would not affect non-Muslims.

"The government have never categorically stated that the sale of alcohol is prohibited in this area," he said.

Kano state secretary Alhaji Ado Gwaram said that the official Sharia implementation group would not have handled the incident in this manner and said the behaviour of the independent committee was "unfortunate".

The dilemma for Kano's state government is to continue to accommodate the interests of some 5% of Christians in the state whilst pleasing orthodox Muslims who want to see Sharia implemented without compromise.

See also:

04 Jan 01 | Africa
Nigerians flogged for drinking
21 Nov 00 | Africa
Nigeria: Deaths over drink
08 Sep 00 | Africa
Nigeria's secret beer mission
21 Jun 00 | Africa
Analysis: Sharia takes hold
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