The journalist whose article sparked the Miss World riots in Nigeria that ended up killing 220 people gave an interview to the BBC in March in which she lashed out at Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and others who often seemed to be angrier at her than the rioters — and all over a completely innocuous remark (at least innocuous in any country not beholden to religious extremists).
Isioma Daniel’s article in the newspaper ThisDay sparked riots because she said that Mohammed would not have objected to the Miss World pageant and would have probably taken one of the contestants for a wife.
Frankly living in a country where a man who immerses holy symbols in urine can get a federal grant, it’s a bit bizarre to imagine living in a country where people kill each other over whether or not Mohammed would have enjoyed seeing a little skin at a beauty pageant.
Obasanjo — who vacillates between saying he will crack down on Muslim extremists and appeasing them — said that the article should not have been published and suggested that Daniel could be prosecuted for what she said. Brother. Or as Daniel told the BBC,
I think he should have been criticizing the people who were out in the streets who were killing and rampaging in the name of religion. I think he should have been speaking out harder against the Northern Islamic religious leaders who had encouraged their followers to go out in the streets.
Yes, but this is the same Obasanjo who has managed to find a way to make gasoline scarce and expensive in Nigeria despite that country being one of the world’s leading oil exporters, so the man has a lot of experience with missing the obvious.
The Nigerian state of Zamfara did follow Obasanjo’s lead by issuing a fatwa calling for her death (the northern states of Nigeria have joined the defunct Taliban in adopting an extreme Islamic legal system).
For her part, Daniel said she doesn’t understand what all of the fuss was about,
The particular sentence, the Mohammed sentence, I added in as a last minute thing. I thought it was funny light hearted and I didn’t see it as anything anybody should take seriously or cause much fuss.
‘Riots writer’ attacks Obasanjo. The BBC, March 12, 2003.