Nigerian Democracy: Police Enforce Sharia Against Christians

ICC Note: ICC has continued to cover the increasing oppression of Nigerian Christians in Muslim-majority states through the formal operation of government. Twelve of Nigeria's states have adopted sharia rule; but only recently has it become more aggressively enforced against Christians in those areas. In Kano state, all citizens are now required to adhere to an Islamic dress code or face severe fines and imprisonment.

10/23/2013 Nigeria (The Times of India) - Police who enforce Islamic law in Nigeria's northern city of Kano have arrested 150 people in the last week, including for indecent dress, as part of a crackdown on immorality, a spokesman said on Tuesday. Some people in Nigeria's second city have been picked up for sporting hair styles inspired by prominent international football players, said Mohammed Yusuf Yola, spokesman for Kano's sharia police, or Hisbah.

Others were thrown in jail and fined for wearing their trousers too low on their waists, mimicking a style that became prominent in the 1990s, partly through the influence of some American hip hop artists.

The arrests have followed an order by Kano state Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso to cleanse the city of immoral practices and the trend is set to continue in the weeks ahead, said Hisbah Director-General Abba Sufi.

The Hisbah is a state police force funded by state government and is not part of the federal police.

"We have arrested 150 men and women in the past week, including prostitutes and their boyfriends, transvestites, alcoholics and those engaged in indecent dressing in contravention of the sharia legal code," Yola told AFP.

Religion has repeatedly been used as a political issue in Kano and the governor, seen as a moderate, has been accused by rivals of lacking commitment to sharia's guidelines.

Yola insisted the operation was launched to reverse disturbing trends in the city of some five million people and is targetting people of various faiths.

"Those arrested include Muslims and non-Muslims and we treat them equally because this is about morality," he said.

Kano, like the rest of northern Nigeria, is majority Muslim, but the city has a sizeable Christian minority.