- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 15, 2004

KENYA

Iconoclasts smash Presbyterian images

KIKUYU — Church elders in Kenya have begun destroying some of the country’s most valuable and historic colonial-era religious imagery after a commission ruled that early Scottish missionaries to East Africa were “probably devil worshippers,” the London Daily Telegraph reported yesterday.

A group led by senior Presbyterian officials already has torn down symbols at St. Andrew’s in Nairobi, the main Scottish church in the country, prompting condemnation from British diplomats, politicians and parishioners.

A campaign is under way to prevent the desecration of the country’s oldest surviving Presbyterian church, built in 1907, which the group is threatening to “cleanse” this weekend. Among the images destroyed at St. Andrew’s were 30 stained-glass windows, tapestries, wrought-iron grilles, Royal Air Force shields and memorials to parishioners killed in the East Africa campaigns of World Wars I and II.

NIGERIA

Kano state widens Islamic dress code

KANO — Authorities in northern Nigeria’s Kano state have extended an order for Muslim students to wear Islamic dress in private as well as state schools, officials said yesterday.

Hajiya Balaraba Bello Maitama, the state education commissioner, told reporters that Muslim girls in 600 private schools in the state would be required to cover their heads with a scarf, or hijab, while boys would have to wear caps, starting in January.

“However, this directive does not include Christians, who are exempt from Shariah provisions,” she said.

Kano is one of 12 northern states that have reintroduced the Shariah, or Islamic legal system, since Nigeria’s return to civilian rule in 1999. This has raised concerns about legal standards in the region’s courts, which have the power to order sentences of stoning or amputation, and has increased tensions between Muslims and Christians.

Weekly notes

Dakar’s sixth neighborhood film festival opened yesterday with a tribute to Senegalese writer and director Ousmane Sembene, whom organizers consider to be the godfather of African film. Festival director Oumar Ndiaye said the five-day festival, whose theme is “multiple views,” owes a huge debt to Mr. Sembene, a winner at the Cannes Film Festival this year for his full-length feature “Moolaade,” which told the story of six girls on their journey to escape traditional genital mutilation. … The United Nations said yesterday that initial indications suggested that one of the rebel groups in Sudan’s western Darfur region was involved in the killing Sunday of two employees of the British charity Save the Children. U.N. spokeswoman Radhia Achouri told reporters in Khartoum: “The African Union will carry out an investigation into the incident. … There are indications of involvement by the Sudanese Liberation Army.”

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