Nigeria Islamic court ‘bans Twitter feed’


 BBC on line:

Amputee Lawali Isa, file image

Court-ordered amputations remain controversial in Nigeria

An Islamic court in Nigeria has banned a rights group from hosting debates on the Twitter and Facebook websites on the use of amputations as a punishment.

The court, in the northern city of Kaduna, backed a case brought by a pro-Sharia group arguing that the forums would mock the Sharia system.

The rights group, the Civil Rights Congress of Nigeria, said it would appeal against the ruling.

Sharia judges can order amputations of limbs for petty crimes in some states.

The courts mostly deal with domestic issues such as marriage and divorce.

Sharia judges have sentenced some women to death by stoning for adultery, but the sentences have not been carried out.

Amputation anniversary

The newspaper ThisDay quoted the judge’s ruling as saying:”An order is hereby given restraining the respondents either by themselves or their agents from opening a chat forum on Facebook, Twitter, or any blog for the purpose of the debate on the amputation of Malam Buba Bello Jangebe.”

In 2000, Jangebe made history as the first person in Nigeria to have an amputation carried out under Islamic law after being found guilty of stealing a cow.

The Civil Rights Congress said it had started a Twitter feed, blog and Facebook debate on Jangebe so „Nigerians could air their opinions on Sharia law as a whole”.

The group told the BBC’s Hausa service it would appeal against the ruling.

The Sharia code runs alongside the secular state system in 12 of Nigeria’s 36 states, and citizens can choose which system they deal with.

It is not clear whether the Kaduna court has the authority to enforce the ruling, which analysts say is the first such judgement in Nigeria.

The judge was ruling on a case brought by the Association of Muslim Brotherhood of Nigeria, a Kaduna-based pro-Sharia group.

De Alexandru Nădăban Publicat în islam Etichetat

El Salvador marks Archbishop Oscar Romero’s murder

 BBC on line:

By Julian Miglierini
BBC News, San Salvador

A woman sells T-shirts printed with Archbishop Romero's image

Archbishop Romero: As much a cultural as religious figure today

 Sister Luz Isabel Cueva vividly remembers the moment Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero was murdered as he celebrated Mass on 24 March 1980.

„When he finished his sermon, he walked to the middle of the altar; at that moment, the shot rang out,” says Sister Luz Isabel, who was among the congregation at a private chapel in El Salvador’s capital, San Salvador.

„It sounded like a bomb explosion. Monsignor Romero held on to the cloth on the altar for a moment and pulled it off. Then he fell backwards and lay bleeding at the feet of Christ,” she says, standing a few metres from the exact spot where the Archbishop lay fatally wounded.

Archbishop Oscar Romero - file photo
1977: Appointed Archbishop of San Salvador
1979: Bloodless coup by reformist army officers; military-civilian junta installed but army-backed violence continues
February 1980: Romero urges US President Jimmy Carter to reconsider offer of aid to junta. Carter refuses
23 Mar 1980: Romero tells soldiers they are killing their own people
24 Mar 1980: Romero murdered in church

Archbishop Romero’s assassination marked a turning point in the country’s history.

His death and the violent clashes during his funeral in San Salvador’s main square, in which dozens died, sparked international condemnation.

His murder was an embarrassment for the US administration, which counted El Salvador’s right-wing regime as one of its allies in the region.

It also confirmed what many, including Archbishop Romero himself, feared: that this small Central American country was set on a path of violence that would, in the ensuing decade, kill some 70,000 Salvadoreans in a bloody civil war.

During his three years as Archbishop, Oscar Romero urged an end to the brewing violence and defended the right of the poor to demand political change, a stance which made him a troublesome adversary for the country’s oligarchy.

His views also antagonised some within the Roman Catholic Church.

„Archbishop Romero was the most loved person and the most hated person in this country,” Ricardo Urioste, his personal aide, explains. „And as Jesus, he was crucified.”

Executions, kidnappings and torture of the rural poor and activists who opposed El Salvador’s right-wing government had become commonplace in the late 1970s.

The slogan „Be a Patriot – Kill a Priest” was written on many walls, indicating that the Catholic priests who had sided with the country’s poor were also a target for the death squads that terrorised the country.

Archbishop Romero’s murder has never been properly investigated by the Salvadorean courts.

But a United Nations-backed truth commission, set up under the peace agreement that ended the civil war in 1992, concluded that the plot to kill Archbishop Romero was led by the former army major, Roberto d’Aubuisson. He died in 1992.


In his Sunday sermons, broadcast by radio around the country, Archbishop Romero listed the abuses and demanded an end to the repression.

„In every house they were listening to his homily. Ordinary people like workers, but also the authorities – the military, the president and members of parliament,” says Carlos Ayala, a journalist who at the time was studying to become a priest.

In a country with almost no free press, Mr Ayala says, the broadcasts were „like a place to find out what was really going on.”

Through those broadcasts and his pastoral visits, Archbishop Romero reached people in the most remote corners of El Salvador; many of whom remember him vividly. 

Irma in front of a mural depicting the photograph of her and her  cousing with Archbishop Romero

This mural depicts the photo of Irma with Archbishop Romero

Irma Gutierrez is a single mother of three who now lives in the poor outskirts of San Salvador but she grew up in Los Sitios Arriba, a small village in the north, one of El Salvador’s poorest areas.

She was there when, at the age of six and during a visit by Archbishop Romero to the village, she and her cousin were photographed in his arms in an image that became one of the most famous images of his ministry.

Sitting outside the church where the picture was taken, she remembers the episode with pride, and her adoration for Archbishop Romero has not abated.

„For me that was a very special moment, a blessing from God and from Monsignor Romero. He filled our hearts with faith, and strength to believe in God more strongly.”

Pop icon

The chapel where Archbishop Romero was killed remains almost intact today; it still serves terminal cancer patients at the adjacent hospital.

El Salvador has seen economic development and democratic advances in the 30 years since the archbishop’s murder, but violence remains common.

The brutality of the civil war and the death squads lives on, often in the form of the „maras” – the criminal street gangs that have a strong presence in some areas.

The religious composition of El Salvador has also changed; as in some other Latin American countries, there has been a rise in numbers who belong to various Protestant denominations.

According to a study by the Central American University in San Salvador, more than 38% of Salvadoreans now belong to one of these Churches, a doubling of the figure in 11 years.

What Archbishop Romero would make of this change is impossible to know, but his memory today goes beyond religion and into pop culture.

Omnionn belongs to a popular local hip hop group, Pescozada, that has dedicated a song to the murdered archbishop.

He believes that Oscar Romero’s widespread presence in El Salvador, on T-shirts, murals and hip hop songs, means the attempt to silence him failed.

„What his killer did was to keep three generations thinking about him”, the artist says.

It echoes Archishop Romero’s own prediction about his future a few days before his death.

„If I’m killed,” he said, „I will rise again in the Salvadorean people”.

Female poet uses ‘Arabic Idol’ to attack Muslim clerics A veiled female poet has used verse to lash out at hard-line Muslim clerics on live television during the popular Arabic version of „American Idol.”

 Hissa Hilal: Female poet uses 'Arabic Idol' to attack Muslim  clerics
Hissa Hilal recites one of her poems Photo: AP

In The Million’s Poet programme, competitors battle it out to impress a panel of judges with traditional Arabic poems, not pop songs.

But instead of choosing an ode to the beauty of Bedouin life, Hissa Hilal, only her eyes visible through her black veil, delivered a blistering attack on Muslim preachers „who sit in the position of power” but are „frightening” people with their fatwas, or religious edicts, and „preying like a wolf” on those seeking peace.

 The programme, The Million’s Poet, is a chance for poets to show off their original work, airing live weekly on satellite television across the Arab world from Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates. Contestants are graded on voice and style of recitation, but also on their subject matter, said Sultan al-Amimi, one of the three judges on the show and a manager of Abu Dhabi’s Poetry Academy.

Her poem got loud cheers from the audience and won her a place in the competition’s finals, to be aired today. While she is a favourite to win the show, her poetry has also brought her death threats, posted on several Islamic militant websites.

But she has shrugged off the controversy.

„My poetry has always been provocative,” she said. „It’s a way to express myself and give voice to Arab women, silenced by those who have hijacked our culture and our religion.”

Her poem was seen as a response to Sheik Abdul-Rahman al-Barrak, a prominent cleric in Saudi Arabia who recently issued a fatwa saying those who call for the mingling of men and women should be considered infidels, punishable by death.

But more broadly, it was seen as addressing any of many hard-line clerics in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the region who hold a wide influence through television programmes, university positions or websites.

Poetry holds a prominent place in Arab culture, and some poets in the Middle East have a fan base akin to those of rock stars.