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Friday, 22 November, 2002, 11:16 GMT
Nigerian paper's apology
Burnt ThisDay office in Kaduna
The ThisDay offices were burnt in Kaduna
The following is the apology printed by the ThisDay daily national newspaper in Nigeria, whose original article led to protests in the northern city of Kaduna.

An Apology to All Muslims

To all our Muslim brothers and sisters, Assalamu Alaikum Wa Rahamatul-Llahi Wa Barakatuhu. May the peace and blessing of Allah be upon you all.

With all sense of responsibility, sensitivity and respect for all Muslims, the staff, management, editors and Board of ThisDay newspapers apologise for the great editorial error in last Saturday's edition on Miss World Beauty Pageant.

We are sorry that the portrayal of the Holy Prophet Mohammed (SAW) in a commentary written by one of our staff was not only unjustified, but utterly provocative.

The supervising editor made an attempt to remove the offensive portion during the editing process.

But we must say that this time, technology failed us, and gravely too.

When we realised that the publication had gone to the market, we did not wait to be reminded.

The editor promptly issued an apology and retracted the story. This was published on the front pages of Monday and Tuesday editions.

But many thought the apology was insufficient.

At ThisDay, we have no reason to denigrate Muslims or the Holy Prophet. Why should we?

Key members of our management are devoted Muslims, including our Group Executive Director, Alhaji Deji Mustapha, who also runs the Friday page on Islam; Editor at Large Waziri Adio; Deputy Editor Alhaji Yusuph Olaniyonu; Development Editor Bolaji Abdullahi; Associate Editor Ali M. Ali and Associate Director Alhaji Nuhu Musa Kazaure among others.

Beyond that the offensive paragraph runs against the grain of our beliefs and what we stand for at ThisDay as we show sensitivity to the complexity of our nation.

Why would we do anything that would seem to denigrate any religion, when we believe in the peaceful co-existence of Nigerians?

Since we began to publish in 1995 as a national newspaper, ThisDay has realised the need for us to constantly reflect the views, emotions, and values of our readership across the country.

We know our credibility and large readership depend on our ability to respect every belief system and viewpoints. And this is why we have managed over the years to maintain the trust and confidence of a broad spectrum that cut across the lines of our complex diversity as a country.

ThisDay has constantly sought to be objective and fair to all, while favouring none. We hold this position, not only because the profession of journalism recommends it, but also because we recognise the critical role that we have to play as a newspaper in forging unity and understanding among the various identity groupings in our country...

Saturday 16 November was our error, for which we feel very sorry. We recognise the gravity of this error, and we have handled it with all the seriousness it deserves, including very strong disciplinary measures for those who failed in their duties.

We therefore seek the understanding of our Muslim brothers and sisters and sincerely hope that in the spirit of the Holy month of Ramadan, and in the interest of our beloved country, Nigeria, we would show forgiveness and understanding.

From all this we are learning many lessons. Even if we strive to respect all religious sensitivities we now realise more than ever that we have to do even more as we build bridges of understanding across our complex religious divide.

We have learnt that we cannot always rely on technology, and that we have to do more to improve our processes so we can continue to pursue the path of truth and reason. Ours is a public trust. We do not, and will not take our responsibility for granted.

May the Almighty Allah, the God of infinite wisdom, continue to guide us aright. Ma-Assalam, and Ramadan Kareem.

Management

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Dan Isaacs
"We don't know the death toll yet"
Guy Murray-Bruce, Miss World publicist
"It's just a form of entertainment which in a democratic setting should be allowed"
 VOTE RESULTS
Should the Miss World Pageant be cancelled?

Yes
 58.45% 

No
 41.55% 

14484 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion


Miss World row

Analysis

Features

BACKGROUND

Talking PointTALKING POINT
Turning ugly
Miss World: Was it right to quit Nigeria?
See also:

21 Nov 02 | Africa
21 Nov 02 | Africa
09 Nov 02 | Africa
22 Nov 02 | Africa
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