Over 100 people have been killed and another 500 injured in the Northern city of Kaduna, Nigeria as mobs of Muslims and Christians rampaged through the city killing and burning bystanders to death, according to CNN. The riots began after an article was published in the Lagos daily newspaper that questioned why Muslim groups were protesting the Miss World pageant, due to take place in Nigeria on December 7. The article included a line that Prophet Mohammad would most likely have married one of the beauty contestants, according to Reuters. Muslim groups in northern Nigeria have banned the newspaper. In response to the protests, the newspaper printed three apology letters.
Earlier this week Muslim youths looted shops and started fires in Kaduna in response to Nigeria’s role in hosting the Miss World pageant. Muslim groups are arguing that the beauty pageant is un-Islamic, and they are also angry that the contest began in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Reuters reported that the fundamentalist Nigerian Muslim Umma, an umbrella group of Islamic scholars and clerics, stated that the situation is a “religious emergency” and issued a statement telling the Nigerian government to stop the pageant.
The Miss World contest is also receiving protests from another group of people the beauty queens themselves. Several contestants have boycotted the pageant as a protest against the harsh death sentence imposed on a single mother, Amina Lawal. A Northern Nigerian Islamic Court sentenced Lawal to death by stoning for having sex out of wedlock. Lawal is the second Nigerian woman condemned to death by stoning for engaging in sex outside of marriage. The first woman, Safiya Hussaini, had her sentence overturned in March after international outcry by women’s and human rights organizations.
The Nigerian government recently promised to stop the Islamic courts from carrying out sentences of death by stoning.