PRESS RELEASE: Nigeria – Lawal appeal victory welcomed by Islamic group

Islamic Human Rights Commission

25th September 2003

PRESS RELEASE: Nigeria – Lawal appeal victory welcomed by Islamic group

The chairman for the London-based human rights organization ‘IHRC’ today said that ‘shariah’ law as implemented in Nigeria “ignores corruption in high places but targets the powerless.”

The statement was made by Massoud Shadjareh, Chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Commission the day the Amina Lawal won her appeal in Nigeria. Lawal was charged with fornication 31 months ago and sentenced to death by stoning. The conviction came shortly after several Northern Nigerian states adopted shariah law.

“Hudood punishments under the banner of shariah in a secular state are unacceptable and cannot be the starting point for the implementation of shariah,” said Shadjareh.

“This is the majority consensus among the different Islamic schools of thought.” A woman who is not married at the time of accusation of fornication does not deserve capital punishment nor is pregnancy proof of fornication in an Islamic court he added.

Shadjareh said he also feared that “selective and abusive use of shariah would only promote fear and hatred of Islamic law both within and outside the Muslim community.”

IHRC welcomes the ruling, but remains concerned at the simplistic and often Islamophobic reporting of the situation in Nigeria, where the legitimate aspirations of the Nigerian people, the abuse of Islam by politicians and the marginalisation of Muslim communities is described, without substantiation or clarification, as ‘shariah’.

For more information, please call the Press Office on +44 (0) 20 8904 4222 or +44 (0) 7958 522 196, or email:

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