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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 March 2006, 13:16 GMT 14:16 UK
Nigeria religious eclipse warning
Zambian children watch the 2001 solar eclipse
Special glasses are needed to view the eclipse
Nigeria has stepped up a campaign to stop superstitious interpretations of Wednesday's eclipse of the sun.

The authorities fear a repeat of Muslim riots in 2001, when a lunar eclipse prompted attacks on Christian targets.

The eclipse was seen as anger from god for sinful activities. But new adverts say no religious significance should be placed on the natural phenomenon.

Last month, religious riots over the cartoons satirising the Prophet Muhammad claimed more than 100 lives.

During a total solar eclipse, the moon blocks the light from the sun and the sky appears as dark as night.

The BBC's Jamilah Tangaza says Information Minister Frank Nweke is appearing on many of the television adverts warning against superstitious interpretations.

Women watching eclipse through special glasses in Dubai
Libya will have one of the best views of the eclipse

The cartoon riots last month overlapped with protests against attempts to change the constitution to allow the president to run for a third term.

This rising of Nigeria's political temperature - ahead of next year's elections - has prompted a concerted government campaign over the eclipse, our correspondent says.

Scientists have also been despatched to different parts of the country to explain the scientific aspects of the eclipse.

Nigeria's National Space Research Development Agency has warned against viewing the eclipse with the naked eye.

Together with the government, the agency has sent out special glasses to look at the sun.

Devout Muslims regard the eclipse as a time of prayer - offering two raka'ats to ask for forgiveness - and a time to give alms to the poor.

Darkness will fall in north-west and south-west Nigeria, in 14 of the country's 36 states between 0915-0945 local time on Wednesday.

The eclipse will also be visible from much of Asia, Turkey, and Brazil, with Libya experiencing the best and longest view.

graphic showing how an eclipse happens

If you take pictures of the eclipse, you can send them to us at yourpics@bbc.co.uk

Your pictures of the solar eclipse
03 Oct 05 |  In Pictures
Eclipse triggers Nigeria riot
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04 Dec 02 |  Science/Nature


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