Five Anglicans in Court after 'Rescuing' teenagers from arranged marriages

David Virtue DVirtue236 at AOL.COM
Wed May 9 00:38:58 EDT 2001

Five Anglicans in court after 'rescuing' teenagers from arranged

(ENI) Five Anglicans-two priests and three laymen-will appear in court
in northern Nigeria May 17, charged with abducting two teenage sisters
who were going to be forced into arranged Muslim marriages in an area
of the country which applies strict Islamic law. The Anglicans claim
that the girls are practicing Christians who sought shelter in their

Four years ago, their father, who had been an animist all his life,
converted to Islam and insisted that the girls, then aged 12 and 13, do
the same so that Muslim husbands could be found for them. When they
refused, their uncle took them to the district headman and imam. They
were allegedly kept at the headman's house for six days and told they
were possessed by spirits.

They escaped and were taken by one of the laymen now facing charges to
a parish church in Tudun Wada. Soon afterwards, the two sisters were
sent to the house of one of their aunts. Abduction carries a maximum
sentence of 14 years in prison under Nigerian civilian law.

Bishop Zakka Nyam of Kano told ENI that the court case was proof that
Sharia (Muslim) law-officially separate from civil law in northern
Nigeria-was filtering into the legislature as a result of pressure from
Muslim extremists. "Sharia is spreading everywhere," Nyam said. "Life
here is increasingly like living under a jihad [a holy war by Muslims
against unbelievers]."

He said that ''Islamic law is becoming a real test to us, and
Christians in the area are becoming frightened. ''

Kano is one of nine northern Nigerian states which, since the advent of
civilian rule in Nigeria in 1999, have invoked their constitutional
right to put into practice the strict sacred law of Islam embracing all
aspects of a Muslim's life. Prostitution, gambling and alcohol have
been banned, and thieves can be taken before an Islamic court and
sentenced to amputation.

In Sharia states, Muslim vigilante groups known as ''hisba'' operate
alongside the national police force.

Northern Nigeria is predominantly Muslim. Kano is the third biggest
city in the country, with significant Christian communities, including
about 20,000 Anglican residents.


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