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Can Sharia law work in Africa?



Islamic holy law - Sharia - is attractive to Moslem fundamentalists and no one else. Let's face it, the 7th century just wasn't a fun time to be alive.
Rath Andor, USA

The Sharia law is good justice system where everybody will be treated equally regardless of being poor or rich unlike other man made laws whereby you will not be treated fairly.
Abdiweli Mohamed, Canada

Just two of the comments Talking Point received. Read more below.

Background ¦ Your reaction

The Background:

Zamfara is one of the newest states in Nigeria. Its population of about 2 million people is predominantly Muslim.

News and Information for Africa
The State Assembly has passed a bill to introduce Sharia (or Islamic) law and the State Governor, Alhaji Ahmed Sani has gone ahead and launched Sharia, despite a heated debate and strong reservations from many other institutions and states across Nigeria.

Under Sharia, people could have their hands amputated for theft, some couldl be flogged when caught drinking alcohol, adultery could attract a public stoning to death, and other "convicted criminals" could be beheaded publicly.

It will become a legal requirement for women to cover their heads and arms and there will be the segregation of men and women in public places. In fact, the state is planning to provide separate public transport, schools and health centres.

Christian leaders are worried that the introduction of Sharia in Zamfara will be a dangerous precedent in a Nigeria where democracy is in its infancy, and religious divisions run deep.

They fear that other northern states with significant Moslem populations will be tempted to follow the example of Zamfara state.

Many other critics of Sharia rule are wondering if its introduction is not un-constitutional?

But the Zamfara State Governor insists that there action is constitutional because freedom of worship must be upheld. He promised that Christians would NOT be subjected to Sharia law.

So, is Sharia law the best way to remove existing religious divisions in Nigeria or will it bring more conflict? Are the concerns of Christian leaders about Sharia law genuine or are they just building a mountain out of a molehill?

Should the Federal government of President Obasanjo step into the situation? Should Sharia law be established in other African countries with significant Moslem populations?

Background ¦ Your reaction

Your Reaction:

It is just obvious that any attempt to introduce sharia law into Africa will not only cause serious conflict in the judicial system of the countries involved, but will also lead to all sorts of wars civil religious you name it. The experiment the Zamfara state governor in Nigeria is doomed to fail because the federal government of Obasanjo can not afford to risk the hard-won democracy that is still at it's young stage. Again the demands of sharia law are so primitive that they are bound to be unacceptable to the increasingly sophisticated and fast westernising peoples of Africa. Sharia in all its ramifications is an evil wind that blows nobody any good not even the Muslims themselves.
Erasmus Uche Ikedilo, U.S.A.

It is shameful that on the eve of moving into the 21st century, some overzealous, religious fanatics are bent on taking us back to the preliterate era. The introduction of sharia law in zamfara state (Nigeria) is bound to boomerang as it will further retrogress the already backward section of the country socio-culturally, educationally and otherwise. May it fail.
Bunmi Ajayi, Australia

We hear with increasing frequency, news reports describing the spread of Islamic law and the description of what it involves. I believe this has been matched by a justified fear of the rise of Islam in the UK and other 'Western' European countries. Such Western European countries tend historically to have legislation based on various Christian values. In both systems, religious laws surely comprise the most bigoted, biased and unfair legislation on the statue books. Surely the answer of 'Western' countries should be to progress swift and strong towards law based on secular values described by the French: freedom, equality, liberty and brotherhood.
Andi-Tsuyoshi Williams, Belgium

Having lived in Sudan and Somalia, albeit some 18 years ago, I can attest to the fact that the imposition of a religious doctrine on largely ignorant, poverty stricken people merely keeps them in that unhappy state. This is all very sad.
Mark M. Newdick, USA/UK

It's better for a country like Nigeria not to have a government coloured by religion. The country is multi-ethnic and multi-religious. Obviously, everybody in Nigeria is not getting everything he or she wished in totality, but it is essential to give and take for the country to stay together. However, if the Nothern Nigerian muslim opts for Islamic system of government then the need for the sovereign national conference so as to discuss independence for each regions that have similar goals and objective. As of now, the introduction of sharia law in Zamfara state is illegal and unconstitutional. My personal opinion is that religious system of government is not good for Africa because our societies are diverse not homogeneous like the Arab states where Islamic system of government is been practised.
Fawumi, K. Olalekan, Saudi Arabia

Introduction of Islamic law alienates moderate Muslims who for fear of being denounced by their extreme brother Muslims prefer to keep their views to themselves. A well-organised secret ballot to determine the wishes of majority will certainly revel this naked truth to the shock of the few Islamic fanatics. Islamic law equally discourages would-be converts to Islam.
Lagho, Kenya

Sharia, Good luck to them. Iranians are wishing it will go away. The Maghreb states are doing everything to avoid extremism. Just look at Sudan, Afghanistan,Chenya, Mauritania. The Governor of Zamfara is trying to do a 419 on the Muslim world as soon as this blows over he will bring out begging bowl and go after Saudi and Muslim money. I don't believe they can be serious. The sad thing about this selfish gamble is that Zamfara will be left behind even more! By the way what was Umaru Shinkafi doing attending such destabilising event, We will remember this next time he wants to be president.
Rocco, UK

God/Allah set an ethic, but it is man who wrote the laws. What is wrong with Sharia type rule is that it leaves no room for error. What is more where there is corruption at large the confirmed guilty party has still got off free - Saddam Hussein, Gaddafi and Idi Amin are prime examples. Whilst many would wish our own law system not to be so spineless in its sentencing of criminals, to implement Sharia would lead to the steady downhill path of dictatorship rather than democracy.
Hazel, UK

Religion and the law should never be mixed. All religions by their very nature are bigoted and oppressive. Religious rules have been used through history to unjustly persecute minorities. The law should be there to benefit all citizens and not just religious zealots.
Callum, UK

What the proponents of Sharia law fail to realise is that it is not fair. What if someone is later found to be innocent? You can't reattach someone's hand or bring the executed back to life. Take a step back from the religious nonsense you have been fed and take a long hard look, does it still make sense?
A Smyth, UK

Any system that distinguishes between women and men is wrong in my book.
Alan Lynott, UK

this is not the right time to implement such a law in Africa. Let us use our common sense to rule.
Usiff Sesay, Sierra Leone

If the roles of men and women were reversed under Sharia law it would have been consign to the dust bin of history centuries ago.
Krow, USA

The introduction of Sharia law in Africa should not be expected to be panacea for all problems. The consent of the people ruled should be the most important factor when making decisions. I think Islamic law will function better than the colonial inherited justice systems prevailing in Africa.
Omar A., Sweden

Religious extremism in any form is dangerous.
Eddie, London

It is unimaginably stupid that some reckless politicians now want to drag Nigeria back into the Stone Age, as if the damage they have wrecked so far is not enough. How can the Sharia become a priority in a state where 100 babies born out of 1000 die before are six years old? Now that women will no longer have access to education, this dismal situation will further deteriorate. Rather than be part of this nonsense, the Niger Delta region should now go their own way. The Nigerian experiment has failed conclusively.
Ebie Ngesia, Nigeria

Sharia law can work not only in Africa, but everywhere in the world. This is because Sharia law is brought by the Creator of the universe who knows everything; past, present and future. However, Sharia law can not succeed unless it is practised fairly to everybody; poor, rich, officials, presidents, royal families etc. and not like in other countries Sharia is only practised to those poor people. Moreover, all other laws seem to fail as crimes and corruption increase in the world. Why don't we try Sharia law?
Amour Al-Wardy, Oman

Sharia law is a stumbling block to the progress of an underdeveloped people. Zamfara and the sister state Sokoto are the least educationally developed states in Nigeria. Instead of devoting their energy to catching up educationally, they are putting blockages in the way particularly for their women. As the saying goes, educate the woman and you educate a nation. As a man I know Sharia law deprives women.!!!
OA Ode, Nigeria

Nigeria is a secular nation. This is done for a purpose to prevent the persecution of one religion by another. Thus the introduction of Islamic law is not only unconstitutional but irresponsible and illegal. I can only speculate what that man intends to achieve. Inevitably this is going to lead to religious persecution and harassment. Christians in the North have a hard enough time as it is without this. Religion and state should be divorced without exception. The only way this should be allowed is if Zamfara state formally secedes from the Federal Republic. We have enough problems without this nonsense.
Chidi N, UK/Nigeria

The Sharia law is good justice system where everybody will be treated equally regardless of being poor or rich unlike other man made laws whereby you will not be treated fairly. A good example is if you kill someone in British legal system the sentence will be 25 years, after the finishing the terms you will be out of jail. The family of victim will see the killer on the street and they will not be happy about it, but in Islam if you kill someone you will be killed and that is the end story.
Abdiweli Mohamed, Canada

Too rigid to be followed by every nationality. Inculcates Islamic ideals which simply are rules that do not fit everybody. Sharia laws never helped integration of minority groups except forcing them to conform to what they would like to be. The law is harsh and has no place for behavioural changes. Tends to distaste or discriminate against its dislikes. Religion in the form of Islam tends to be violent and uncompromising, I wonder how it is going to work anywhere. It has not promoted even in the so called Islamic countries, where, Christians are forced to change their names into Islamic names instead of their heritage. It sounds a mechanism to promote what Islam lost three hundred years ago.
John, Canada

Sharia Law cannot work in Africa unless the people of Africa know exactly what is a Sharia Law and understand that it's the Law of God and is what Democracy is all about.
Mohamed Sillah, USA

Instead of fanning religious hate and division, the issue should be looked at objectively from its correct perspective - as one that demonstrates the effecting of the wishes of the majority. What is democracy; democratic rights and institutions all about if the acceptance depends on what the western world thinks determines the legitimacy of such a democratic right of the populace?
Aden Abdulrahman, Kenya

I personally do not want Sharia in any parts of Africa regardless to whether the country claimed to be an Arabic or Islamic country. Africans like myself and others who feel like myself are tired of Islamic problems such as Arabizing and Islamizing people who do not want to be in such position. First of all, Africans followed their traditional beliefs before the coming of the Arabs in Africa, so why would they be forced in Islamic rules and laws? I believe in Christianity ever since I was born and that is how I will die as a Christian. I have more to write, but I couldn't finished it because I have to go to class.
Joe, Ceaser, Sudan (US Resident for now)

The experience of Africa as a society still growing and left behind in every aspect of development in modern world will teach African people that complex communities (like African nations) should be saved the added problems inherent in over-zealous religious fanaticism. I really wonder how a sane leader in any State in Nigeria can encourage a push toward the adoption of religious laws to govern civil and criminal justice. It is a SHAME!
One can easily see how leaders like Abacha and some others have easily reigned in Nigeria, with all the wealth of professional and learned minds. We have enough problems to educate our children, build our roads, develop our infrastructure, grow our economies and enhance the lives of people. Religion is a personal matter that should only be an ally of the State but not rule her.
Dr. Joseph U. Igietseme, USA

Don't forget all Nigerians are not Muslims, and all Africans are not Muslims. Unless you just want to do things in the way that you want, it is very clear that, anything to be done through religion will not represent the rights of other religion denominations. We've had enough examples, take a country like Sudan, because of his Sharia law that is why that war is going on and on for years. So let us not repeat or commit the same mistakes. We have to find something of common ground that can accommodate every one.
Subek David Dada, Australia

Religious laws can govern societies given the adverse ethnic, racial religions in the continent.
Tombe, Sudan

Yes! Shariah Law is applicable and can work anywhere in the world not only Africa. It is Allah's Law and that is what his slaves should be governed with.
Siyeed Jamaaludeen, Somalia

If Sharia law is the will of the people in Zamfara region in Nigeria then it is ok and it is democratic. Think of Muslims living under Christian laws without their consent or their will? Is that fair?
Mahdi Shakib, USA

First, not all of Africa is Muslim, therefore one cannot generalise it to be an applicable solution for Africa.
Second, as long as the Muslims apply it on themselves and not try to impose it (as they generally try to) on Christians, secular enlightened Muslims and animists, that's fine. Or else ... just look at our neighbour SUDAN !!!
Girmay, Eriteria

Sharia law is archaic, outdated and very inhuman and does not respect human rights. God forgive them.
Tamba Eric Mbayo, Sierra Leone

God created man with a free will to to choose what to believe in or not to believe in (eg. in God). The introduction of Sharia (a force to observe that) law impinges on the freedom of belief which God has given to man and thus a violation of fundamental human rights. Religious morals have a lot to do with the change in the human heart rather than forceful observance of religious laws such as Sharia. Such forceful observance of religious rules and regulations accomplish nothing but brings oppression, conflict and division.
F. Omara, Uganda

I don't think this is going to work in Nigeria because Nigeria is not a Moslem Country and also I think that those Hausa people just want to create more problems than they created already.
Titilayo Adisa, America

The future world needs Islamic law, humans are treated wrongly in worldly laws, let's get back to reality - divine laws?
Aley Jay, Kenya

Islamic law is the only way a majority Moslem country can succeed in Africa or anywhere else in the world,you just can not compete with God's law.
Abdi Sabrie, Georgia, USA

Women in Africa have enough problems as we sprint toward the 21st century. Subjecting them/us to institutionalised oppression (which is the Sharia law's ultimate goal) is not my idea of "progress"!
AG, USA

Can Sharia law work in Africa? Of course NOT. There are over 50 nations with all sorts of religions colours and creeds.
Tariq, England

No, it can't. it is waking up in people the religious intolerance in an already very volatile society that is Nigeria. It is very disappointing to see that such law is still in use anywhere in the world. It is most unfair and indicates the level of extremism of politicians in that state. With such leaders, what chances does it have to develop into a civilised society that is expected at the doorstep of the 21st century.
Stan, Australia

Can Sharia law work in Africa?

Final Votes:

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