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Nigerian Government Opposed to Death By Stoning

The government of Nigeria announced its opposition to an Islamic courts ruling of death by stoning for a single mother, Amina Lawal Kurami, who is the second Nigerian woman condemned to death by stoning for engaging in sex before marriage. The first woman, Safiya Hussaini, had her sentence overturned in March on her first appeal. A third woman, Atanda Fatimo, who is a 21-year-old pregnant Nigerian student, was given temporary stay in Cyprus last week after applying for asylum because of her fear of being stoned to death for having a child out of wedlock.

After giving birth to a child outside of marriage, Kurami was found guilty of sex out of wedlock in October 2001. After a lower Islamic court in the Katsina state rejected Kuramis appeal to the death by stoning sentence, Kuramis lawyers will next appeal her case to higher Islamic court and possibly to the Supreme Court. The central government of Nigeria has voiced their opposition to the application of Islamic law, which calls for such punishments as the cutting off a hand for theft and death for committing adultery. The government has pledged their own lawyers to help Kurami in her upcoming appeals.

If the case does reach the Supreme Court, it will result in a battle between the central government and the Muslim North, according to Sharia, Islamic law, was established in northern Nigerias mostly Muslim state Zamfara in 2000 and has since spread to at least 12 other states. The introduction of Islamic holy law has created tensions between the Christian and Islamic populations. At least two riots have broken out over the threat of introducing sharia, resulting in the deaths of more than 3,000 thousand people.

TAKE ACTION Urge the government of Nigeria to keep their promise to intervene in Kuramis case and protect womens and human rights.

THIS THURSDAY Protest Kurami's Death Sentence

Media Resources: Associated Press 8/23/2002, 8/22/2002; Feminist Daily News 8/19/2002;