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Gunship
12th Nov 2002, 06:58
Link (http://www.news24.com/News24/Africa/News/0,1113,2-11-1447_1283795,00.html)

Abuja - Beauty queens from more than 80 nations jetted into Nigeria to compete in the Miss World pageant, defying calls for a boycott to protest against death-by-stoning sentences imposed on Nigerian Muslim women for having sex outside marriage.

Several entrants did not arrive for the charter flight that ferried the contestants from London to the West African nation's capital, Abuja. Miss World organisers could not immediately explain the no-shows, saying only that they hoped the others would arrive before the pageant finale on December 7.

"Some people say there is a boycott. Is there a boycott? There isn't one," insisted Ben Murray-Bruce, director-general of the Nigeria Television Authority, the pageant's official broadcaster.

Last year 96 nations were represented in the pageant. Organisers said they expected 92 participants this year, including four latecomers. Journalists counted more than 80 contestants disembarking from the plane in Abuja.

Absent this time were beauty queens from Costa Rica, Denmark, Switzerland, South Africa and Panama - who all previously indicated they would boycott the pageant. Miss Sri Lanka also didn't arrive, although organisers said she was expected later in the week.

Wearing casual clothing beneath green sashes emblazoned with their nationality, the Miss World aspirants who arrived in a sweltering Abuja were greeted by Nigerian children clad in traditional clothing and carrying flowers.

"We're so happy to be here," Miss World president Julia Morley said. "We are here to put Nigeria on the map of international beauty."

The pageant is being billed by Nigeria's government as the highest-profile international event ever to be staged in Africa's most populous nation.

After Nigerian Islamic courts sentenced four people to death by stoning for the offenses of extramarital sex and rape, at least nine nations -Panama, Costa Rica, Spain, France, Kenya, Denmark, Belgium, Switzerland and South Africa - threatened to boycott to pressurise Nigeria's government to rescind the sentences.

Pageant organisers chose replacements for the Belgian and French no-shows. In an apparent turnaround, Kenya's Miss World affiliate sent a contestant on Monday after earlier indicating it would not.

In a recent public relations blitz, Nigerian government officials insisted they would not permit the stoning sentences to be carried out, yet refused to intervene directly to avoid alienating Muslim voters ahead of elections next year.

"You have no fears in this country. Your safety is guaranteed. And I assure you, no Nigerian has been stoned or will be stoned," Dubem Onyia, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, said on Monday to the newly arrived beauty queens, who clapped politely in reply. "Relax and enjoy yourselves."

At least one of those condemned to a stoning death, Amina Lawal, a 31-year-old single mother convicted in March, has gone into hiding while awaiting a second appeal by a higher Islamic court.

Nigerian Muslim fundamentalist groups have also protested against the pageant, prompting organizers to delay the event by more than a week until the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadaan.

Officials in four majority Muslim states - Sokoto, Zamfara, Kebbi and Yobe - said on Monday that local television and radio broadcasters in their states were forbidden from broadcasting the pageant.

Sadiu Aliu, an official of Mahiba, a Nigerian Muslim fundamentalist group in the northern city of Gusau, said his group was planning a month of "black prayers" to spread "plagues of curses and bad luck" on Miss World organisers and participants, whom Aliu accused of "spreading immorality".

After a send-off banquet in London last weekend that Britain's Prince Edward decided to boycott, Miss World contestants were expected to begin a month of photo shoots and other activities Tuesday in the southeastern jungles of Cross Rivers state.

Miss World, which competes for global television audiences with Miss Universe, is highly popular in Asia and parts of sub-Saharan Africa and South America. The contest has gained one first time entrant this year - Vietnam, whose ruling Communist Party once disparaged beauty contests as a sign of capitalist decadence. - Sapa-AP

Just an other number
12th Nov 2002, 16:05
And the death by stoning which, despite vigorous statements by the Nigerian government, has still not been overruled is carried out by digging a 3 foot hole, standing the young lady in it and filling it in, i.e. half buried and unable to move.
Then the good and true of the community throw large rocks at her head ...
you don't need more....

Boss Raptor
12th Nov 2002, 17:25
After a month of places like Cross River we'll see how many have various unexplained skin complaints, tropical fevers or malaria...

Looks like a cunning plan by the Nigerians to cut down the field :D

Gunship
13th Nov 2002, 06:42
Miss World: Logistics daunting

John Chiahemen

Abuja - Nigeria struggled on Tuesday with daunting logistics of staging its biggest showbiz event after managing to avert a mass boycott of the Miss World pageant.

Pageant sources said organisers were battling to raise cash for everything from hotel rooms to air charters, including two jumbo jets that will fly equipment into a country with some of the world's poorest infrastructure.

"The stage to be used for the final in Abuja alone weighs 96 tons and must be flown in from London," a pageant official said.

Because Nigerian promoters were unable to pay all five million sterling ($8 million) for hosting rights, they had to shoulder the 148 million naira ($1.2 million) hotel costs at Abuja's Nicon Hilton, a Nigerian official said.

"If they had paid the hosting fees, the Miss World Organisation would have taken care of all hotel bills," added the official, who asked to be unnamed.

A planeload of contestants arrived in Abuja on Monday night, to the relief of Nigerian officials who had feared a humiliating boycott over the plight of Nigerian women sentenced by Islamic sharia courts to be executed by stoning for adultery.

"There is no boycott," declared Ben Murray-Bruce, head of state-run Nigerian Television Authority, a co-sponsor.

"This is the moment the whole world has been waiting for," Murray-Bruce told cheering contestants, among them representatives of at least five countries that had said they would stay away - Belgium, Canada, France, Kenya and Norway.

After the airport reception, the contestants were whisked to their hotel where they have been kept away from the press.

Lack of experience in handling international media for such a massive event meant journalists had no official list of countries represented.

Boycott jitters

But it was the initial boycott threat and concern that the event would be disrupted by Nigerian Islamic fundamentalists who have labelled the beauty contest "a parade of nudity" that worried the Nigerian government the most.

Senior officials said a significant boycott could have jeopardised Nigeria's hosting next year of the All Africa Games and the summit of the 54-nation Commonwealth group.

Ministers repeated assurances the government would not allow any Nigerian convicted of adultery under Islamic sharia law to be stoned to death.

The cabinet minister in charge of the Nigeria's Federal Capital Territory went to extra lengths to assure Muslims that the contestants would not wear revealing clothing in Abuja.

Two men and two women, including a 31-year-old mother, have been sentenced to death by stoning. The mother's sentence in particular prompted worldwide outrage.

The contestants were scheduled to be flown on Tuesday or Wednesday to the predominantly Christian southeast of the country for all the pre-pageant video shoots.

Organisers said a total of 92 contestants would eventually take part. Nigerian Agbani Darego became the first black African to win the contest in 2001.

Junior foreign minister Dubem Onyia told the contestants at the airport that Nigeria was determined to uphold human rights following the return of democracy in 1999 after 15 years of military dictatorship.

"No Nigerian has ever been stoned to death and the government will never allow any Nigerian to be stoned to death," he told cheering contestants, including those from the United States, Japan, Russia and China.