Features

Skipping stones

National

Issue: "Beyond the nightly news," Oct. 11, 2003

REMEMBER AMINA LAWAL, THE 31-year-old single mother in Nigeria who last year was sentenced to death by stoning on an adultery charge? An Islamic Court in Katsina State in a 4-1 decision last month cleared her of the charge.

"Today we are celebrating the victory of law over the rule of man," exulted Ms. Lawal's lawyer. Human-rights advocates said the ruling is an important first step toward securing the legal rights of Nigeria's 60 million plus Muslims. A dozen of the country's 36 states, each with its own independent judicial system, have instituted Shariah law. The central government contends it is unconstitutional to try people under Shariah, but doesn't intervene for fear of civil war.

State courts have cleared three others facing adultery charges, and a dozen more are awaiting trials or appeals. Meanwhile, scores of jailed thieves are awaiting amputation of their hands. And in a neighboring state, a court sentenced a young man to be stoned to death for sodomy.

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Edward E. Plowman
Edward E. Plowman

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