Nigeria's Catholic bishops warned the African country faced a potential "national suicide" over the issue of Islamic sharia law which was the cause of rioting between Christians and Muslims last week that left hundreds dead.
   "The truth is that Nigeria as we know it cannot sustain a sharia legal system parallel to the law of the land in any part of the country," said a statement from the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria. "Even now it is not yet too late for government to take vigorous action to halt this mad rush to national suicide."
   The mainly Muslim northern states of Nigeria have proposed or passed sharia law which supporters said would only apply and impose its harsh penalties on Muslims. While many of the states have an overwhelming majority of Muslims, Kaduna state, which saw most of the violence last week, is 40 percent Christian. The fighting began after a peaceful Christian rally was attacked by gangs.
   The bishops said, "Let it be made clear to all concerned that it is not possible to try to bring in through the back door of state legislation what has already been clearly rejected in the constitution." They added, "Those who are insisting on this by declaring a wider scope for the sharia in their states must bear full responsibility for the conflict situation we now find ourselves in, as well as for any further degeneration of the situation."
CWN 1/3/00

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