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EDITIONS
 Sunday, 24 November, 2002, 16:33 GMT
Nigerian press ponders Miss World riots
Miss World beauty pageant arrive at Gatwick International Airport
The Miss World pageant has been relocated to London
The departure of the Miss World contestants has been met with a mixture of sadness and relief in Nigerian newspapers.

"It is a sad day for Nigeria," The Guardian comments, "not exactly because the Miss World Beauty pageant scheduled to be held in Abuja next month has been cancelled and the venue shifted to London, but because we still take a great deal of delight in killing ourselves."

The paper, exasperated by the violence that has hit the country over the past two years, spoke of "thousands of lives lost" and "a river of hatred between neighbours, friends and even relations".

It is doubtful whether many of the youths that are routinely deployed to fight these phantom wars actually know what they are fighting for

The Guardian

"Where else in the world do people kill their brothers and neighbours and destroy their hard-earned properties at the slightest provocation than in this country?"

The minds of at least three generations "have been hopelessly poisoned" the paper laments.

"Why must we do this to ourselves?"

Phantom wars

Noting that the riots began in Kaduna, the paper speculates that "professional rioters" may have sparked this new surge of unrest, which it suggests may not be linked to the beauty contest and the controversial newspaper article which suggested that the prophet might have chosen one of the contestants as a bride.

"It is doubtful whether many of the youths that are routinely deployed to fight these phantom wars actually know what they are fighting for, the paper charged. "You are left with the impression that they are just willing tools in the hands of some evil men and women."

Now that the contest has been moved away from Nigeria "I hope we will have some peace", it sighed.

Political dimension

TheVanguard too, suggests the latest violence has introduced a political element to inter-ethnic and religious clashes of the past two years.

Under the headline "Killings again in Kaduna in the name of God" the paper says the "ever-volatile city.. was in its element again", and the "pent-up anger" from the previous incidents was "yet to defuse".

There had been indications that the controversial beauty show might turn out to be an ill wind that would blow the nation no good

Weekly Trust

The Weekly Trust daily agrees. Anyone could have seen the clashes coming, it suggests.

Ever since the idea of hosting the pageant in Nigeria was made public, there had been "indications that the controversial beauty show might turn out to be an ill wind that would blow the nation no good".

The daily recalls that the previous ethno-religious violence had left Kaduna divided into two parts, with the north controlled by Muslims and the south dominated by Christians.

TheNew Nigerian fears the calm that has returned to Kaduna may be short-lived. It, too, sees the cause of the riots in local rivalries.

"Even as the dust was settling," the paper said "a new chapter of crisis might soon open with supporters of [Kaduna] Governor Ahmed Makarfi spoiling for revenge against their political opponents."

Dented image

The Vanguard believes the decision to move the pageant from Abuja is considered in government circles as a blow to President Olusegun Obasanjo who, it says, had given the project his backing and whose wife was one of the event's most high-profile supporters.

Moving the pageant is "a dent to the image of Nigeria," the paper suggests.

While the organisers had hoped the spectacle would brighten the image of Africa's most populous nation as a tourist destination "instead, media coverage has focused on controversy over the death sentences slapped on two unmarried mothers by Sharia courts and on vicious mob violence."

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  The BBC's Dan Isaacs in Nigeria
"It's a sign of hope that Christian and Muslim leaders are calling for calm"
  Dela Momodu, editor of Ovation magazine
"We have a history of beauty pageants... some won by muslims"

Miss World row

Analysis

Features

BACKGROUND

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

24 Nov 02 | Africa
23 Nov 02 | Africa
22 Nov 02 | Africa
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