Last Updated: Monday, 15 September 2014, 10:11 GMT

Fundamentalists target Twitter and Facebook in unprecedented move

Publisher Reporters Without Borders
Publication Date 24 March 2010
Cite as Reporters Without Borders, Fundamentalists target Twitter and Facebook in unprecedented move, 24 March 2010, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4bb06c5418a.html [accessed 15 September 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Reporters Without Borders deplores yesterday's ruling by an Islamic court in Kaduna, in the northern state of Zamfara, ordering a Nigerian human rights group, the Civil Rights Congress, to close its blog and stop hosting debates on Twitter and Facebook about the use of amputation to punish theft. The debates were prompted by the 10th anniversary of Nigeria's first amputation under Sharia law.

"An Islamic court has banned an online debate about the Sharia and human rights for the first time in Nigeria," Reporters Without Borders said. "This order may be hard to enforce, but there is a real risk that it could encourage widespread self-censorship."

The press freedom organisation added: "It has set a disturbing precedent in a country that has so far not introduced Internet controls and is indicative of the mistrust that some fundamentalist groups feel towards online interactivity. We support the Civil Rights Congress in its determination to challenge this decision."

Judge Lawal Mohammed of Kaduna's Magajin Gari court yesterday issued an order "restraining the respondents [the CRC] either by themselves or their agents from opening a chat forum on Facebook, Twitter, or any blog for the purpose of the debate on the amputation of Malam Buba Bello Jangebe."

Jangebe was the first person to be punished by amputation of the hand after the Sharia was introduced in 12 northern states including Zamfara. The sentence set off a wave of condemnation both in Nigeria and abroad.

The court issued the injunction in response to a complaint filed on 19 March by the Moslem Brotherhood of Nigeria alleging that the online debates were making "a mockery of the Sharia system."

The head of the CRC, Shehu Sani, said his organisation would appeal against the order. "We opened the blog and the Facebook and Twitter chats to give Nigerians a platform to air their views on Sharia law and on the justification or otherwise of amputation," he said.

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