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Nigerian Woman Flogged Abuja NZ Herald Jan 8 2001

A 17-year old girl whose father allegedly forced her to have sex with three men will be flogged for breaking a law against premarital sex. Judge Idris Usman Gusau said the sentence - 180 lashes with a cane - would be carried out on January 27 despite an appeal by the Nigerian government to suspend the punishment. The sentence has prompted an outcry from human rights groups which fear the girl may die.

Gusau said her condition would be monitored throughout the flogging which would be halted if she was not able to cope with it all at once. The girl was charged afterit was discovered she was pregnant. According to Amnesty International the girl said she was impregnated by one of three middle aged men. The sentence was delayed until she delivered her baby. The girl was sentenced by an Islamic court in the northern state of Zamfara. Amnesty International said the girl did not have legal representaton at her trial. No charges have yet been brought against the girl's father.

President Olusegun Obasanjo a Chirstian has sought to avoid confrontation over the issue of Islamic law or Shariah whose introduction in several northern states last year sparked several bloody clashes between CXhristians and Muslims. Hundreds were killed in the confrontations. Southern Nigeria is predominantly Christianb, and northern Muslim.

Tuesday, 23 January, 2001, 08:16 GMT Nigerian flogging condemned

Most Nigerian Muslims welcome Sharia law Canada has condemned the 100 lashes given last Friday to a teenage girl in northern Nigeria who was found guilty of having pre-marital sex.

The Canadian foreign ministry said it was particularly unhappy that 17-year-old girl had received her flogging before the outcome of an appeal against her conviction.

A government spokesman, Bashir Sanda, said the flogging, announced on Monday, went ahead because local authorities wanted to bring an early end to the storm of international criticism.

The girl, Bariya Ibrahim Magazu, was sentenced under Islamic law after three men forced her into having sex last September.

She was made pregnant in the incident and her punishment was deferred by the authorities in the northern state of Zamfara until two weeks after she had given birth.

Human rights groups and the Canadian Government protested vehemently when the sentence was passed last year.

A BBC correspondent in Zamfara said Miss Bariya had not been badly hurt by the flogging, and though bruised, she was able to walk away.

Our correspondent also says she had received several marriage proposals after her beating and had accepted one of her suitors.

Pregnant

Reports say that a crowd of about 100 people gathered to watch.

The case will come as an embarrassment to the Nigerian Government, which has chosen not to confront states in the north of the country which have extended Sharia during the past year.

Human rights groups in Nigeria have been quick to condemn the lashings with one women's group, which had been lobbying for Bariya, saying it was shocked and surprised.

Divisive issue

Since Nigeria returned to civilian rule in 1999, eight northern states have introduced Islamic law, known as Sharia.

Zamfara was the first state to do so a year ago, and has been the most active in prosecuting the code.

The issue has polarised opinion in Nigeria, where it is opposed by the predominantly Christian south.

Muslims in northern Nigeria feel strongly that Sharia has been misunderstood by Christians, who have tended to concentrate on the punishments.

But it also has massive popular appeal to those who believe it will help root out corruption and restore moral values.

Critics say public floggings for pre-marital sex violate the constitution and are an infringement of human rights.

Ethiopian women march against violence Saturday, 10 February, 2001, 22:33 BBC

Rural women are in particular danger of abuse Singing and waving banners, Ethiopian women finished a week of protests against rising domestic violence at a rally in Addis Ababa's Meskel Square.

In the first public act of its kind in Ethiopia, more than 1,000 women marched to the office of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and to parliament and delivered petitions demanding more police protection and harsher sentences for offenders.

For three evenings the women have been gathering in the huge square in the centre of Addis Ababa for a series of candlelit vigils organised by the Ethiopian Women Lawyers' Association.

Organisers say they have been shocked by the increase in sex offences and the fact that they often concern very young girls with street children and young maids particularly vulnerable.

Organiser Asta Berka partly blamed a breakdown of traditional values, with people no longer bothering to intervene if they saw a girl or young boy being harassed in the street.

Oppressive values

Ms Asta said: "We have a very long history of 'good conduct', for want of a better word, but we don't see that in this case of violence against women and children.

"So why does out conduct, our good conduct, bend when it comes to women and children?"

But campaigners also want laws changed to stamp out more oppressive "traditional values".

In some country areas, there is a tradition of marriage by abduction, with men kidnapping and raping the girls they want to marry.

In Ethiopian law, this rape is not punishable by law as long as the abductor pays the girl's family and agrees to marry her.

"The conspiracy of silence is frightening when the violence is against toddlers, and it is time that we spoke out," Konjit Fekade, chairwoman of the protest committee, told the crowd.

In Africa in general, violence against women and girls is perceived to be on the increase.

Penalty demands

The women's petition demanded that the penalty for rape be increased to a mandatory 20 years, and in exceptional cases, life in prison as opposed to the current seven to 10 years in prison.

Much abuse, particularly within families, goes unreported.

Dr Mulu Muleta of Addis Ababa's Fistula Hospital said a growing number of young rape victims were being brought in as well as child brides.

"In rural areas, girls are given in marriage at an early age because of the pressure to conform to tradition and to ensure that the girl is a virgin at marriage," she said.

"The marriages are arranged by parents or elders, and the decisions are based mainly on financial considerations."

Kuwaiti court rejects vote for women Tuesday, 16 January, 2001, 08:21 BBC

Kuwait: The only Gulf Arab state with an elected parliament Kuwait's Constitutional Court has rejected a test case seeking to give women the vote.

The case before the country's highest judicial body was the latest move by women and some male supporters to try to end the all-male dominance of parliament and political institutions.

The court rejected a case brought by Adnan al-Isa, a man who sued the elections department for failing to register the names of women, including his wife, on electoral lists.

The head of the court, Judge Abdullah al-Isa, gave no immediate explanation on announcing the ruling. But it is reported to have been based on the argument that only the government, parliament and other courts can submit petitions to the constitutional court.

Emir's move spurned

In 1999, the Kuwaiti parliament voted down a decree by the country's ruling emir, Sheikh Jabar al-Ahmad al-Sabah, which would have allowed women to vote.

Several women activists responded by bringing lawsuits to secure the right themselves. However, in July last year, the courts rejected several such cases over a technicality.

The Kuwaiti constitution gives men and women equal rights, but an election law has since denied women voting rights.

Kuwaiti women, said to be among the most emancipated in the conservative Gulf region, can travel, drive and work without their fathers' or husbands' consent and hold some senior government positions.

Women activists have other cases before Kuwaiti courts as part of a drive to gain rights for women.

The latest move comes as Kuwait prepares to mark the 10th anniversary of the start of the Gulf War, which convulsed the region.

Speaking after hearing the court ruling against him, Adnan Isa said: "The entire state is walking on the path of Islamist direction. Women's rights were blocked in parliament because of the Islamists."

Kuwait had its first general elections in 1962, just months after independence, but parliament has been suspended twice since then. The last elections were held in July 1999.

Pakistani 'prophet' sentenced to death Saturday, 5 August, 2000, 14:48 BBC

Islamic groups accused Mr Ali of being an impostor By Zaffar Abbas in Karachi

A court in the Pakistan city of Lahore has sentenced to death a Muslim spiritual leader on charges of blasphemy.

Sixty-year-old Mohammed Yusuf Ali was found guilty under the controversial blasphemy law for misguiding Muslims by presenting himself as a prophet of Islam.

He has a right to appeal in the High Court.

Mohammed Yusuf Ali has been at the centre of a religious controversy in Pakistan for the last few years.

A former army officer, Mr Ali was a cult figure for his followers, who thought he had unique spiritual powers.

But many Islamic groups described him as an imposter who they said was working against the teachings of Islam.

He was arrested about three years ago after a private complaint.

'Irrefutable evidence'

During the trial that lasted for more than a year, Mr Ali consistently denied the charges.

The judge however declared in his verdict that there was irrefutable evidence that he had tried to present himself as a prophet of Islam and under the country's blasphemy law, sentenced him to death.

He is perhaps the first Muslim in the country to have been given the death sentence under the blasphemy law, which human rights groups say has often been misused against the religious minorities.

Earlier this year, the military ruler, General Pervez Musharraf, changed the legal procedure to discourage the misuse of the blasphemy law.

But following pressure from the Islamic group, he soon took back the decision.

Wednesday, 31 January, 2001, 16:01 GMT Riots over Pakistan 'blasphemy' letter

The angry mob blocked streets in protest Islamic students have gone on a rampage in Pakistan over an allegedly blasphemous letter published in a newspaper on Monday.

The students, belonging to the hardline Islamic Jamaat-e-Islami party, burned down a cinema and rioted on the streets of Peshawar, close to the Afghan border.

The offices of the Frontier Post newspaper were set on fire on Tuesday in anger over the letter, which criticised the Prophet Mohammad's dealing's with Jews nearly 14 centuries ago.

The country's military ruler, General Pervez Musharraf, has now ordered a judicial inquiry to identify those responsible for the letter.

Riot

Hundreds of Islamic students blocked roads and then attacked the cinema which they consider to be "un-Islamic".

Reports say they ripped out seats and destroyed the screen and projecting equipment, before setting the theatre on fire.

Police fired teargas and used batons to disperse the rioters.

One report said the mob blocked the main highway leading from Peshawar to the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, and forced several schools to close.

They chanted slogans such as "hang the culprits" and "blasphemy not allowed".

In a statement on Wednesday, General Musharraf appealed for calm and said the government "would not let the culprits go unpunished".

Controversy

Religious parties in Pakistan have been angered by the publication of the letter - apparently sent by e-mail - headed Why Muslims Hate Jews.

They said the letter attacked the founder of Islam, the Prophet Mohammad.

Following its publication, seven staff members of the paper, including two editors, were charged with blasphemy - an offence punishable by death in Pakistan.

The Frontier Post has since publicly apologised for publishing the letter which, they said, was part of a conspiracy against the paper and the people of Pakistan.

The editor said he suspected two disgruntled staff members may have inserted the letter in the newspaper to harm it.

Pakistan's independent Human Rights Commission has condemned the letter but said the government needed to take a stand against the riots.

"When all is said and done, it is for the administration and the courts to determine the action that needs to be taken," the Commission said.

Under Pakistani law, if anyone is accused of blasphemy, the police are obliged to register a case and make an arrest.

Fury over Taleban statue purge Friday, 2 March, 2001, 00:37 BBC

Bamiyan's tall Buddha angers the Taleban The international community has reacted with outrage to the news that Afghanistan's ruling Taleban movement has begun destroying the country's statues.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, Unesco, denounced what it calls acts of vandalism, and called on Muslim nations to try to put an end to the destruction.

But the international outcry was dismissed and reports from Kabul describe the hard-line Islamists using tanks and rocket launchers in their quest to rid Afghanistan of the images which they consider blasphemous.

The statues under threat after the order by Taleban supreme commander Mullah Mohammed Omar include two giant Buddhas carved into the mountainside at Bamiyan which have religious, historic and artistic significance.

It is not known whether these ancient statues have already been attacked.

Islamic help

Unesco head Koichiro Matsuura, said: "By perpetrating these acts of vandalism the Taleban are furthering the cause neither of Afghanistan nor Islam."

He urged other Islamic nations to work together to find a solution, and said representatives from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates and Iran had already backed his call.

"They have all expressed their unconditional support and have pledged to do all that they can do to put a stop to these destructions," said Mr Matsuura.

The French Foreign Ministry warned the Taleban that the destruction of Afghanistan's cultural past would further isolate it in the international community.

A Taleban spokesman in the United States, Sayed Rahmatullah Hashmi, told the BBC the statues were being destroyed to retaliate for the 1992 demolition of the ancient mosque at Ayodhya in India by Hindu activists.

There has been no confirmation of this from inside Afghanistan.

'Insulting statues'

"The implementation of Mullah Omar's order to destroy statues began this morning," said Qadratullah Jamal, the Taleban's information minister.

"The destruction work began in Kabul, Jalalabad, Herat, Kandahar, Ghazni and Bamiyan.

"The destruction work will be done by any means available to them," he added.

Taleban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar gave the order on Monday, declaring the statues were insulting to Islam and should be destroyed.

The ultra-conservative Taleban believe depiction of any human figure is blasphemous.

"All we are breaking are stones," Mullah Omar was quoted as saying by the Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press.

"According to Islam, I don't worry about anything. My job is the implementation of Islamic order," he said.

Buddhas

Afghanistan was a Buddhist centre before the arrival of Islam in the Ninth Century.

But some mullahs believe, mistakenly, that Buddhists worship the Buddha and that the statues are therefore idols.

The country's museums contain numerous Buddhas and other figures of priceless historical value.

There are also a number of Hindu shrines in Bakhtiar province.

"It is a great loss, a tragedy for the Afghan people and for the world," said Italy's ambassador to Pakistan, Angelo Gabriele de Ceglie.

Mr de Ceglie was in Kabul representing an Italian-funded organisation dedicated to preserving what is left of Afghanistan's rich past.

The head of one of the two Bamiyan Buddhas was blown off during the Taleban's capture of the city in 1998.

The other statue, at 53 metres high, is the world's tallest standing Buddha.

Genesis of Eden Diversity Encyclopedia

Get the Genesis of Eden AV-CD by secure internet order >> CLICK_HERE
Windows / Mac Compatible. Includes live video seminars, enchanting renewal songs and a thousand page illustrated codex.



Join  SAKINA-Weave A transformative network reflowering Earth's living diversity in gender reunion.

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