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Friday, 23 November, 2001, 13:41 GMT
Nigeria's Emir opposes Bin Laden
Kano Muslims celebrate introduction of Sharia
Muslims in Kano have fought Christians over air strikes on Afghanistan
By Mark Doyle in Kano, northern Nigeria

One of Africa's top Islamic leaders, the powerful Emir of the northern Nigerian state of Kano has told the BBC he is opposed to Osama Bin Laden's version of Jihad against the United States.

The Emir also said he was monitoring US bombing of Afghanistan to ensure that it was aimed solely at what Washington called terrorism, and not Islam in general.

The traditional ruler, speaking through his senior palace councillor during an audience with the BBC, said a Jihad - or holy war - had to follow strict rules.

He implied these rules had not been observed in the attacks on the United States that Bin Laden is accused of masterminding.

Traditions and tensions

His diplomatic balancing act reflects the tensions between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria that have flared since the start of the war in Afghanistan.

Last month, several hundred people, according to unofficial estimates, died in ethnic and religious violence sparked by the US-led air attacks.

The BBC's meeting with the Emir took place at his palace where his arrival was heralded by trumpets.

He sits on a throne surrounded by courtiers, and receives his subjects.

It would be easy to get the impression that life in the royal palace has been changed little by the outside world since the Middle Ages.

But behind the ancient traditions, the issues facing the Emir and the Islamic north of this oil-rich country are complex, pressing, and far from backward.

See also:

09 Sep 01 | Africa
Dozens killed in Nigeria violence
21 Jun 00 | Africa
Analysis: Sharia takes hold
21 Jun 00 | Africa
The many faces of Sharia
15 Oct 01 | Africa
Analysis: Nigeria's Sharia split
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