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"Christians and non-muslims can carry their wives on motor bikes"
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Tuesday, 8 August, 2000, 13:23 GMT 14:23 UK
Motorbike ban in Sharia state
muslim girls
Only Christian and non-Muslim women allowed to ride bikes
Muslim women in Nigeria's northern state of Zamfara have been banned from riding on motorbikes.

Authorities in the Zamfara capital, Gusau, enacted the law on Monday, terming it a "safety measure" to curb the high number of motorbike accidents involving women and children.

About 10 people - many of them children - die in road accidents involving motorbikes in Zamfara State each day.

But many believe the new law was motivated not by safety reasons but moral concerns prescribed by Sharia or Islamic law which was adopted in the state early this year.

Harsh punishment

The BBC's correspondent in Zamfara, Ibrahim Dosara, says that now only men in the city and non-Muslim women are allowed to ride on motorbikes.

The council has warned that it would deal ruthlessly with anybody caught flouting the law.

thousands turn up to celebrate introduction of sharia
Northern Nigeria is predominantly Muslim
Punishment includes a three months imprisonment term, 20 strokes of the cane and confiscation of a motorbike for three weeks.

The Gusau municipal council has also outlawed games of chance such as pool and cards.

The local government did not, however, make it clear whether the ban on gambling applied across the board or was restricted to Muslims.

More Sharia states

Meanwhile another state in northern Nigeria has announced plans to introduce Islamic Sharia law.

The state of Yobe becomes the seventh northern state to introduce or announce plans to implement Sharia since the country's return to civilian rule last year.

The governor of Yobe, Bukar Abba Ibrahim, signed a bill on Monday to enforce the code from 1 October.

Correspondents say the issue has polarised opinion in Nigeria, where it is opposed by the predominantly Christian south.

Muslims in northern Nigeria feel strongly that Sharia has been misunderstood by Christians, who have tended to concentrate on the fact that it introduces punishments such as amputation for theft and flogging for people caught drinking alcohol.

Four more states - Bauchi, Borno, Gombe and Kebbi - states are expected to announce their plans soon.

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