Newspaper’s offices destroyed by fire

New York, November 20, 2002—
The Kaduna offices of the Nigerian private daily This Day were burned down today by Muslim protesters who were angered by a news report the paper published about the Miss World pageant, to be held in the country early in December.

Local sources said the protesters were reacting to an article in the Saturday edition of the paper that appeared to belittle Muslim concerns about the country’s decision to host the beauty contest. The article said that the prophet Mohammed probably would have chosen a wife from among the women competing.

This Day later retracted the story and printed two front-page apologies for the comment.

News reports said that about 500 protesters, chanting “Allahu Akbar” (God is great), marched to the paper’s offices in the early morning and set the building ablaze. Reuters quoted witnesses, who said that the paper’s staff was not in the office at the time.

Local sources said that This Day‘s staff has gone into hiding since the attack, while vendors in the area have stopped selling the newspaper.

The last two years have seen violent clashes between Muslims and Christians across a dozen northern Nigerian states, all of which have recently adopted Sharia, or Islamic law. Kaduna, in Kaduna State, is considered one of the most volatile cities in the region. Two years ago, more than 2,000 people died in violent interreligious clashes in the northern city.