How the Sharia is Destabilising West Africa

The two most politically and economically important countries in West Africa, the Ivory Coast and Nigeria have very dangerously exacerbated the divisions between Christians and Muslims . Moreover, their instability is beginning to affect neighbouring countries. Many Nigerians fleeing the draconian Islamic laws in northern Nigeria have settled in frontier towns like Firgi and Maradi in Niger. In Maradi, where hitherto the two religions had lived peacefully side by side, Islamic activists recently burnt down seven resturants owned by Christians, and a church.  The President of Niger, Mamadou Tandja, is opposed to the implementation of the Sharia in his country for he feels that it would only further destabilise it. But the pressure has increased from the Islamists, who battled with the police in the capital, Niamey, protesting against a fashion show. The assistant vicar of the Church that was torched, Sergio Capo, lamented, "This is the first time in the history of Maradi that a church has been attacked. Here you have the effects of the Sharia.  The prevailing wind in Nigeria is now blowing here."

[Source: New York Times, as quoted in Courrier International, 15-21 Feb., 2001.]