Beauty kills?
November 22, 2002 5:33 PM   Subscribe

Muslim rioters force cancellation of Miss World beauty contest: Lagos not favourite in race for Mr.Gay Africa comp.
posted by dash_slot- (34 comments total)
 
How do you fall on this one? Yes, beauty pageants are demeaning; no, they're not worth a single human life being lost.
The organisation "... said the show would be held in London on 7 December instead of the Nigerian capital, Abuja." BBC correspondent Haruna Bahago reports that protesters armed with sticks, daggers and knives set fire to vehicles and attacked anyone they suspected of being Christian.
This is hard to make sense of, to me - how does a random, christian-looking person become responsible for a salacious newspaper report, or even the contest itself?
posted by dash_slot- at 5:40 PM on November 22, 2002


First of all, it is necessary to define what we mean by violence.
posted by four panels at 5:58 PM on November 22, 2002


'Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo went on television along with religious leaders to appeal for national calm, blaming a media report, not the contest itself, for the violence. "It could happen at any time irresponsible journalism is committed against Islam," he said.'

Yeah, it's those damned irresponsible journalists. I know my first impulse on reading a newspaper story I don't like is to grab the nearest bystander and put a burning tire around his neck.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:09 PM on November 22, 2002


Religion as an excuse for intolerance and violence? Say it aint so!
posted by skallas at 6:11 PM on November 22, 2002


Whoever taught them to read needs to teach them to be tolerant, rational, and human.
posted by kyleebrock at 6:14 PM on November 22, 2002


Like Chinua Achebe, maybe? His sadness
"We have dug ourselves into Sharia; into a situation where we have become a laughing stock of the world, because we are discussing things like stoning women to death in the 21st century."
resonates very strongly for me.
posted by dash_slot- at 6:24 PM on November 22, 2002


They can still hold the Miss Medieval World Pageant.

Technically, the riots weren't so much about the beauty pageant itself, as about a column run by the newspaper This Day, which published a commentary, apparently with jocular intent, saying Muhammad "would probably have chosen a wife" from among the pageant contestants; despite two apologies, and public regret, in response, bussed-in Muslims burned down their offices. Only after that did the riots worsen into communal violence, mainly of Muslims against Christians, though there has been retaliation.

In an exemplary showing of Nigeria's understanding of the roots of the problem, the editor and columnist have been arrested.
posted by dhartung at 6:34 PM on November 22, 2002


Yeah, it's those damned irresponsible journalists

Actually it was a somewhat silly, (and probably insensitive, definitely reckless) column that triggered the riots a few days ago alleging that Mohamed would dig to marry one of the contestant babes (retraction here)
posted by victors at 6:39 PM on November 22, 2002


I can't believe you people who are so quick to pass judgement. Don't we want to understand the root causes? I feel the need to sit down with these rioters/murderers and ask "What can we do to lessen your pain and suffering?" Perhaps we'll find out that expressing opinions is the problem and then we can stop this kind of violence by ridding the world of opinions they don't agree with. Violence only begets violence.

If you need to be told that the above was sarcasm (especially if you agreed with it), you are the problem.
posted by billman at 6:44 PM on November 22, 2002


On an utterly unrelated note - how come all - all! - the contestants for the "Mr. Gay Africa" are white as the driven snow?
posted by kavasa at 6:45 PM on November 22, 2002


South Africa I guess. Or, as a black African grad student I used to live beside ridiculously stated to me in response to a question about life for gay black African males: "There are no gay black Africans. Gay is a white dilemma."

I almost fell off my chair.
posted by sir walsingham at 6:50 PM on November 22, 2002


"There are no gay black Africans. Gay is a white dilemma."

Here in Korea, replace the words 'black African' with 'Korean', and 'white' with 'western', and you hear the same thing.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:34 PM on November 22, 2002


Don't we want to understand the root causes?

Actually, yeah: Kaduna's been a powderkeg ever since the riots a couple of years ago, when the body count was in the thousands. At that time, it was Christians burning mosques, as a means of 'protest' against the introduction of elements of sharia. So, consider the pageant as blue touchpaper, and the editorial as the Zippo. It's just mob violence on a grand scale that would be familar to anyone spending June in Belfast.

But to think beyond your gut would involve caring about what happens in the (increasingly-fucked) Nigeria, wouldn't it?
posted by riviera at 7:37 PM on November 22, 2002


Exactly whose idea was it to hold a beauty pageant in a country that's been making headlines for sentencing a woman to death-by-stoning as punishment for adultry? Did no one see this coming?
posted by Optamystic at 7:39 PM on November 22, 2002


I see a lot of apologizing for writing the article. Where's the apologies for killing hundreds of people? Mohammed would be proud.
posted by Ron at 7:41 PM on November 22, 2002


Optamystic: Apparently it was Nigeria's idea.

Controversy over Nigeria's hosting of the Miss World contest has swirled since the country won the right following the crowning of a Nigerian, Agbani Darego, in South Africa, at the last contest. The organizers were threatened with a boycott by contestantsafter Amina Lawal, a 31-year-old single mother, was sentenced to death by stoning for adultery by an Islamic court in northern Nigeria.
posted by turbodog at 8:07 PM on November 22, 2002


Here in Korea, replace the words 'black African' with 'Korean', and 'white' with 'western', and you hear the same thing.

Heard the same in Italy before. Florence actually, where they are famous for their transvestite prostitutes.
posted by keno at 8:28 PM on November 22, 2002


riviera, are you comparing introduction of elements of sharia and publishing an article in a newspaper?
this moral equivalence thing truly rocks.
the thing is, i don't think all the religions are alike, or rather: not all the religions are alike at the same time, since they have their own frameworks in which they progress. As a Muslim friend of mine puts it, when Judaism was in its year 1300 it was bloody like hell, and the 14th century Christianity was not much better. Now it's Islam's turn. Simplistic, yes, but unsettingly descriptive of what's going on.
posted by bokononito at 9:11 PM on November 22, 2002


riviera, are you comparing introduction of elements of sharia and publishing an article in a newspaper?
this moral equivalence thing truly rocks.


I'm guessing, from that response, that stupidity is pretty damn thrilling, too, bokononito. Do I have to spell it out for you in large friendly letters? I called Kaduna a 'powderkeg'. (That's a metaphorical description, by the way.) It was a powderkeg because Christians and Muslims have been looking for excuses to kill one another for at least the last two years, since the last time the place descended into riots. And this editorial provided the tiny spark to turn built-up resentment into bloodshed. There's no defence for the violence; I did not, and am not, offering any. But had it not been an article about Miss World this month, it would have been something else of equal triviality in the months to come.

Think in terms of the 'Rodney King verdict', which in itself didn't 'cause' the extent of the LA riots, but ignited resentment, greed, and the sheer thrill of being part of a mob setting fire to Korean supermarkets.

(And if you'd read the linked articles, you'd have found out that the 'sharia' in Kaduna was some way short of the 'sharia' in Taliban-era Kabul. But I see how that would have been expecting far too much from you.)
posted by riviera at 11:38 PM on November 22, 2002


Riviera...the point I think Billman was trying to make was that the root cause of this killing is simple racial hatred. It had nothing to do with the editorial - that was merely an excuse used to reinvigorate more religion-based murder. The murder was inexcusable, and indeed the whole idea that one can be driven to mass murder by a comedic comment in an editorial says a lot about the problems in modern Nigeria.

And wow - for having so much 'abundance', as Achebe noted, Nigeria has sure had a string of problems from ethnic violence to military coups to religious hatred. Gah.

Here's a hit to the people of Kaduna: Killing your neighbors doesn't make your life better, and I don't think Muhammed would approve, whether or not he would choose a wife from the Miss World contestants.
posted by Kevs at 11:44 PM on November 22, 2002


Is fundamentalism the root cause of this violence, or is it ignorance?
Oh, wait, there's no difference.
Nevermind. ;-P
posted by mischief at 12:29 AM on November 23, 2002


We're not there yet, but its just a matter of time until we have some mullahs of our own here in North America: FCC's Copps seeks indecency definition overhaul
posted by owillis at 12:30 AM on November 23, 2002


the point I think Billman was trying to make was that the root cause of this killing is simple racial hatred.

No, I think that your point is in fact the point you would have liked him to have made, but which he didn't, because cheap sarcasm is so much more effective in these situations. As proved by the editorial staff at This Day in Kaduna.
posted by riviera at 12:43 AM on November 23, 2002


and besides, whose to say that Muhammad wouldn't have chosen a wife from one of the contestants?
posted by lotsofno at 1:36 AM on November 23, 2002


Don't we want to understand the root causes?

No. Let's just hacks us some evil.
posted by Opus Dark at 1:59 AM on November 23, 2002


I find it quite ironic that this was supposed to be Nigeria's tourism coup. After sentencing the woman to death by stoning, they were looking to revamp their image. Bang up job guys!
posted by CoolHandPuke at 4:55 AM on November 23, 2002


When John Lennon said the Beatles were more popular than Jesus, a few fundamentalists burned records. When someone writes that Muhammad would have wanted to marry a pretty woman, huge mobs of fundamentalists burn people.

In a nutshell, the difference between Christianity and Islam, "a religion of peace."
posted by Holden at 6:13 AM on November 23, 2002


riviera: It's just mob violence on a grand scale that would be familar to anyone spending June in Belfast.
I think that that comparison doesn't stand. Never has Belfast seen riots on that level: the biggest terrorist massacre was the Omagh bomb, killing 29 people, and the biggest state massacre was the Bloody Sunday toll: 13. It goes without saying that I condemn both.

Riots in N.I. were a common and deadly occurrence, and no doubt will continue to flare up, but if you can cite a single riotous event which outstrips 5-10 fatalities in N.I., I'd be interested.

Having said that, it's accurate to say that communal tensions in Nigeria are akin to sitting on a powdekeg & giving off sparks; question is: what little can we do about it? Is it not up to community leaders to preach tolerance and acceptance?
posted by dash_slot- at 6:24 AM on November 23, 2002


Holden: Yeah, never catch Christians burning people, would we? :)

The problem isn't the variety of religious stupidity, it's the stupidity.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 6:35 AM on November 23, 2002


Here in Korea, replace the words 'black African' with 'Korean', and 'white' with 'western', and you hear the same thing.

Heard the same in Italy before. Florence actually, where they are famous for their transvestite prostitutes.


I am an organizer for an annual 2-week international symposium on the latest research and treatment on HIV/AIDS/STD, and our attendees are all doctors, Ph.D. researchers, AIDS clinicians and epidemiologists from about 20 different countries.

This year, after a lecture on the latest research on preventing STD in men who have sex with men the students were asked to fill out an evaluation of the lecture, and one of them (a non-American) commented: "There are no gay men in my country." Think about that one - this person was a Ph.D. researcher on STD/HIV. Sometimes I feel like we're going back in time...
posted by tristeza at 10:08 AM on November 23, 2002


riviera: Until they lay me in my grave I would rather you not tell people what I meant. I can do that just fine myself.

When I first learned of this story I posted it to a mailing list I belong to. The subject line was: Another Muslim PR Coup. My take was that it was a crying shame that small groups of people create such a poor image of an entire religion.

One person responded and attempted to frame the problem as a problem with the religion. He was a Jew and spoke very negatively about the Koran containing hate filled text. I pointed out where the Torah and the Bible did the same thing so Christians and Jews were equally as hate filled. He cited one point and I was able to use his own religion and my religion (Catholic) to show that we hold very similar beliefs (similar to Muslim beliefs). The chosen people and everyone else. Born again and everyone else. Muslim and everyone else. All three religions talk about the great struggles they have against the evil non-believers. All three religions have a history of unspeakable violence in the name of thier religion. But why then, does a Christian or a Jew of today become sick to the stomach when hearing about something like this while a significant number of Muslims cheer it on like the World Series? I think bokononito came close. We live in the 21st century and Nigeria 2002, or Afghanistan 2002, or Iraq 2002, or [insert your whack-job country name here] socially and economically and politically resemble the 1500's in the rest of the world. The religious leaders preach that regressing even further into history is the path to glory. For them, the answer lies in their gloried past because the present and the future resemble a big steaming pile of shit.

When the Christians and Jews had their bloody histories they had rocks, arrows, guns and very limited weapons. Today we have nuclear devices, biological devices, and other wide impacting weapons. We simply, as humanity, don't have the luxuary of allowing the Muslims to have their bloody piece of history. It doesn't matter what the "root causes" are. The actions simply cannot be tolerated.

The only way to win this war is with McDonalds and Starbucks. Turn these poor nations into nations of consumors too busy thinking about who's going to get voted off the island on Survivor that they aren't fixating themselves on whether or not Muhammad would have chosen a Miss World contestant as a wife.

That last part, was not sarcasm.
posted by billman at 11:30 AM on November 23, 2002


But had it not been an article about Miss World this month, it would have been something else of equal triviality in the months to come.

Think in terms of the 'Rodney King verdict', which in itself didn't 'cause' the extent of the LA riots, but ignited resentment, greed, and the sheer thrill of being part of a mob setting fire to Korean supermarkets.


Riviera's right, you know--the underlying tensions have to do with money and power. Here's an interesting Op-Ed piece originally from the Johannesburg Sunday Times that outlines the political struggle in the background.

The second point of significance to events of the past week is the political battle for the soul and control of Nigeria . Obasanjo is the only ruler of Nigeria (in his two terms firstly as a military man and now as a civilian) to come from the non-Muslim south.

His election was the result of a compromise that saw the north agreeing to relinquish power to the south. Not only that, but also relinquish power to a non-Muslim president. The military dictators had all been northerners and Muslims , a fact that ensured that major investments moved to the north.


And some background from Reuters--

Kaduna Christians are mainly from the south of Kaduna state. They have long resented the dominance of the Muslim Hausa-Fulani, who have also been at the helm of Nigeria's central government for most of the time since the country's independence in 1960.

Kaduna city residents say religion appears to have provided an easy excuse for an army of jobless youths, who have turned every violent eruption in the area into an opportunity to loot.

The jobless numbers in Kaduna have swelled since the city lost its pre-eminence in the north after Nigeria shifted its capital from coastal Lagos to Abuja, near Kaduna, a decade ago.

Textile factories that made the city a magnet for jobseekers in the 1960s have declined since Nigeria virtually ignored other industries since becoming a major oil exporter in the 1970s.


Interruption over, we now return to the melodramatic pontifications on Islam already in progress.
posted by y2karl at 8:21 PM on November 23, 2002


billman - 'But why then, does a Christian or a Jew of today become sick to the stomach when hearing about something like this while a significant number of Muslims cheer it on like the World Series?'

wide brush stroke? innaccurate and offensive to some, plain ignorance to others, shores up prejudices for some others.

'The only way to win this war is with McDonalds and Starbucks. Turn these poor nations into nations of consumors too busy thinking about who's going to get voted off the island on Survivor that they aren't fixating themselves on whether or not Muhammad would have chosen a Miss World contestant as a wife.'

sarcasm surely? (pdf) people experience as great an inequality of wealth in the us as in turkmenistan (71st most unequal out of 112 countries), both countries experience riots, AFAIK.
posted by asok at 5:11 AM on November 25, 2002


asok: I was actually paraphrasing the question I was asked in my exchange with someone on the subject. I think that's how a lot of people view these incidents.

Second, though I was being a tad flippant, I was not being sarcastic. The US may have a great inquality but that might just have to do with the fact that we have the vast majority of the billionaires in the world. Also, in more socialistic countries that wealth gets tallied under the government which disguises it somewhat in doing pure disparity calculations. Also, can't find the numbers but it was on a Jon Stossel type report where it showed that 60% - 70% of people living below the poverty level in the US own televisions and most of those have cable. Not exactly the same as comparing that guy to the poor in Nigeria, Chiapas, etc. etc. But lastly, and I think most importantly, I think that the part where I said "into nations of consumers" means that you have to set up systems where they have a chance to have expendiable income. You probably won't like my ideas on how to make that happen but until we're able to raise the standard of living of many of the poorest nations, we should not act in horror over these types of incidents.
posted by billman at 9:56 AM on November 25, 2002


« Older Lusty Linens!   |   LIfe of Pi nteractive promo Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments