Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Africa
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

The BBC's Mark Doyle reports
"The two communities clearly set out not only to kill but to destroy the livelihoods of the other"
 real 28k

Friday, 25 February, 2000, 20:12 GMT
Nigeria Friday prayers pass peacefully

Burnt-out bus in Kaduna
Vehicles and homes were burned in the riots

Friday prayers in the Nigerian city of Kaduna have passed off peacefully, four days after bloody clashes between Christians and Moslems.

Mosques had been placed under guard by troops and police for fear of further unrest.

There was no rekindling of the clashes, but Nigerian police said they had thwarted an attempt to burn down the Roman Catholic cathedral in Kaduna.

The cathedral is now said to be under heavy guard.

Soldiers in Kaduna The army remains on alert in Kaduna
The violence in the northern city was triggered by proposals to extend the introduction of Islamic law, or Sharia.

Government officials say they now believe about 220 people were killed in Kaduna.

But hospitals have spoken of 300 bodies being brought in, and eyewitnesses have seen scores of bodies lying in the streets.

Hundreds of people in Kaduna remain homeless after their properties were set alight during the disturbances.


Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, in his first detailed comments on Sharia, said Islamic punishments such as stoning or the cutting off of hands violated Nigeria's constitution.

But he is facing criticism for not intervening sooner.

The Committee for the Defence of Human Rights in Lagos said it held the government solely responsible for the riots because of its silence.

Pope John Paul has meanwhile urged Nigerians to respect religious freedom.

Pope John Paul II in Cairo Pope John Paul: "Deep pain" over Nigerian conflict
"I have learned with deep pain that in Nigeria tensions have caused many deaths," the Pope said during the second day of his visit to Cairo.

Several states in Nigeria's Muslim-dominated north have taken steps towards implementing Sharia law since the introduction of greater political freedoms following Nigeria's return to democracy last year.

Zamfara, with an overwhelmingly Muslim population, was the first state to implement Sharia, and the transition passed off peacefully.

But in Kaduna, a larger state with a substantial Christian majority, the proposed introduction of the Islamic legal code proved particularly divisive.

Nigeria's Human Rights Law Service has started court proceedings to try to have Sharia declared unconstitutional in Zamfara.

Sharia in Nigeria
Zamfara State
Signed into law:
Niger and Sokoto States

Considering Sharia
Kaduna, Kano, Yobe States
But other predominantly-Muslim states in northern Nigeria have taken steps to introduce Sharia law.

The governors of Niger and Sokoto states have both signed bills under which Sharia is expected to come into effect in May.

Two others states - Kano and Yobe - are considering similar moves.

Muslims are pressing for its wider introduction, and have repeatedly stressed that Sharia will not affect Christians.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
Africa Contents

Country profiles
See also:

27 Jan 00 |  Africa
The many faces of Sharia
17 Feb 00 |  Africa
Nigerian flogged for having sex
20 Jan 00 |  From Our Own Correspondent
Islamic law raises tension in Nigeria
22 Feb 00 |  Africa
Nigerian troops tackle rioters
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to top Africa stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Africa stories