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Friday, 22 November, 2002, 15:24 GMT
Nigeria riots spread to capital
A woman walks past a burnt-out church
Several churches were destroyed in Kaduna
Hundreds of Muslim youths have gone on the rampage in Nigeria's capital, Abuja, following Friday prayers.

The BBC's Haruna Bahago in Abuja says people armed with sticks, daggers and knives set fire to vehicles and attacked anyone they suspected of being Christian.

Abuja's main mosque
Miss World contestants are staying near Abuja's main mosque
The northern city of Kaduna is now quiet after two days of rioting in protest at the Miss World beauty contest, which left at least 100 people dead, according to Red Cross officials.

The protests began after a newspaper suggested that the Prophet Mohammed would have probably chosen to marry one of the Miss World contestants if he had witnessed the beauty pageant - which Nigeria is currently hosting.

The contest's organisers said on Friday they intend to go ahead with the event despite the protests.


On Thursday, thousands of Muslim youths went through the suburbs of Kaduna, putting up barricades of burning tyres, setting fire to buildings, and attacking churches.

According to the Associated Press news agency, thousands of people have sought refuge in army bases and police stations.

Kaduna is one of Nigeria's most volatile cities; more than 2,000 people died there in clashes between Christians and Muslims two years ago.

The Kaduna protesters demanded the cancellation of the Miss World contest. Muslim groups say it is immoral and degrading to women, and are also angry that preliminary events began during the holy month of Ramadan.

The final, to be held in Abuja, was postponed until 7 December - after the end of Ramadan.

Tight security

About 90 contestants are in Nigeria for the Miss World events, which are only taking place in southern areas which are largely Christian.

Our correspondent in Abuja says that many people suffered either knife wounds or beatings and the rioters were advancing on the city's central market.

People flee with their mattresses, next to a body
Kaduna's Christians fought back against Muslim radicals

He was himself surrounded by a group of angry Muslim radicals, who suspected he was Christian and had to shout "Allahu Akbar" (God is great) until they let him go.

The riots began at Abuja's central mosque, a short distance from the hotel where the Miss World contestants are staying amid tight security.

In Kaduna, mobs of minority Christian youths were reported to be retaliating against Muslims, and an overnight curfew was extended.

Red Cross spokesman George Bennett told the BBC that medical teams were working to give first aid to the injured, and that scores of bodies had been identified amid the debris.

Dogged by controversy

The Nigerian Government has appealed for calm and has assured Muslims that those responsible for the article, which appeared in ThisDay newspaper, would be brought to book, for exceeding "the bounds of responsible journalism."

ThisDay has retracted the offending article and has published apologies.

Miss World, Agbani Darego
Nigeria is hosting Miss World after Miss Nigeria won last year

The chairman of the group that owns the Lagos-based paper suggested that a computer glitch could have been to blame for the fact that the story went to press in the first place.

The holding of the Miss World contest in Nigeria has also provoked international controversy.

It had been threatened by a boycott by beauty queens after a woman convicted of adultery, Amina Lawal, was sentenced to death by a Sharia court.

The Nigerian Government moved to calm fears by promising it would not allow any Nigerian to be stoned to death.

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Disclaimer: The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.
The BBC's David Loyn
"The riots have paralysed one of Nigeria's key cities"
Guy Murray-Bruce, Miss World publicist
"It's just a form of entertainment which in a democratic setting should be allowed"
Anthony Goldman, Financial Times
"What the pageant has done is to showcase Nigeria at its absolute worst"
Should the Miss World Pageant be cancelled?



14484 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

Miss World row




Turning ugly
Should the Miss World contest be called off?
See also:

22 Nov 02 | Africa
22 Nov 02 | Africa
22 Nov 02 | Entertainment
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