The ongoing takeover of Afghanistan by the Islamic extremist Taliban movement has received a lot of coverage in the United States, especially among feminist organizations who have rightly highlighted Afghanistan’s ongoing war against women’s human rights. Less well reported, however, are the victories that Islamic extremists are gaining in Nigeria, putting that country on the verge of civil war.
In January 2000 the Nigerian state of Zamfara adopted Islamic law, Sharia, and since then it has been joined by seven other Nigerian states. Although not carried quite to the extremes that Sharia has been in Sudan and Afghanistan, it is nonetheless turning Nigerian into a nightmare.
One of the more egregious violations is a return to public whipping of both men and women who engage in pre-marital sex. Several months ago a young couple caught engaging in sex were sentenced to a public lashing, and last week a court in Zamfara sentenced a pregnant 17-year-old girl to 180 lashes. The sentence is to be carried out 40 days after the girl gives birth.
This sentence is particularly cruel since 100 of the lashes come for engaging in premarital sex, but 80 of the lashes are punishment for the girl’s compliance with a court order to name any men she had sex with. The girl complied and named three men she had slept with, but after police were unable to “prove” any of the men had sex with her, the Islamic court convicted her of falsely accusing the three men.
Among other punishments, the BBC reports that “in August, two motorcycle taxi riders in Zamfara were lashed in punishment for carrying female Muslim passengers.”
Like Sudan, Nigeria has a majority Muslim population in the north, but a majority Christian population in the south, and the spread of Sharia and Islamic extremist has led to violent clashes between Christians and Muslims that threatens to erupt into a full-fledge civil war along the lines of what has transpired in Sudan over the past few decades.
Sharia sentence for pregnant teenager. The BBC, September 14, 2000.