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U.S. , Sultan to parley on terrorism

ICC Note

The leader of Nigeria ’s Muslims is expected in the United States to discuss terrorism and Muslim-Christian relationship in that country.

By Laolu Akande

November 6, 2007 Nigeria (The Guardian)-The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar will Tuesday next week join scholars and other religious leaders in the United States (U.S.) at a special confab to evolve strategies to tackle Islamic militancy and terrorism.

Abubakar, who is specially invited to the forum by the U.S. Institute of Peace, will speak on Moslem-Christian relations in Nigeria . The conference will hold in Washington DC .

The Guardian learnt that Abubakar was invited to the conference because of the U.S. growing concern about potential rise in Islamic militancy and extremism in Nigeria and as part of its war on terrorism dialogue strategy.

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Sources pointed to the increasing concern of the U.S. government on the potential for the militant version of Islamic terrorism taking a stronghold in Nigeria as America is also increasing its strategic relationship with Nigeria . Earlier this year, Nigeria became the third largest supplier of oil to the U.S. coming behind only Canada and Mexico , but ahead of Venezuela and even Saudi Arabia .

At the end of March this year, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said that Nigeria overtook Saudi Arabia and Venezuela , at once, to get to the third position in energy supply to America . From eight per cent some years ago, Nigeria is now credited with supplying about 12 per cent of American oil imports.

But the U.S. is said to be concerned that although the Nigerian constitution guarantees freedom of religion “there were instances in which limits were placed on religious activity,” according to the 2006 Human Rights Report of the U.S. on Nigeria released earlier this year.

Besides, the report also noted that “some Christians alleged that Islam has been adopted as a de facto state religion in several northern states, citing criminal law aspects of Islamic law (Sharia) and the continued use of state resources to fund the construction of mosques, the teaching of Kadis, and pilgrimages to Mecca (hajj).”

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According to the report, while non-Moslems are not required in any state to submit to Sharia jurisdiction, but “in some states they have the option to do so, which may work to a defendant’s advantage when the penalty under Sharia is less severe than under civil law. For example, some crimes carry a punishment of a fine under Sharia but would receive a prison sentence under civil law.”

The U.S. government added that although Sharia technically does not apply to non-Moslems, they are affected by certain social provisions of Sharia, such as the separation of sexes in public schools, health and transportation services.

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