Sharia law declared in Muslim Nigerian state

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The Independent Online

A state in northern Nigeria introduced strict Islamic sharia law yesterday, to much local jubilation but deep apprehension in other parts of the West African country.

A state in northern Nigeria introduced strict Islamic sharia law yesterday, to much local jubilation but deep apprehension in other parts of the West African country.

Zamfara has become the first state in the country to introduce the criminal law, which will allow amputations and beheadings once Saudi-trained courts are in place from January. The law was proclaimed in a packed square in the state's capital, Gusau, by the governor, Ahmad Sani Yerima.

"Without sharia, Islamic faith is valueless," said Mr Yerima, who appealed to other states in northern Nigeria to follow suit. At least four are considering the move but Nigeria's President, Olusegun Obasanjo, a born-again Christian, disregarded Mr Yerima's invitation to attend the ceremony.

Zamfara's authorities promise that in any dispute between a Muslim and a Christian it is the Christian who will decide where the case is judged. But the few non-Muslims living in Gusau are worried aboutgrowing intolerance after a ban on the sale of alcohol. They are also concerned by Mr Yerima's public promise that only those with beards will win state government contracts. (Reuters)

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