Thursday, April 29, 2004
Another link from a Reader--it's an email concerning recent "elections" in Equatorial Guinea.

A Reader noted this item about new Sharia laws in Nigeria's Zamfara state:
The northern Nigerian state of Zamfara has introduced a new package of Islamic, or Sharia, laws. All businesses in the state will have to shut down during the five daily Muslim prayers.

The state government also says that all "unauthorised" places of worship will be shut down under "Sharia phase two".

I don't know that a Sharia legal system is necessarily a bad thing in and of itself. Part of democracy is allowing people to choose the kind of laws that suit them best, so it's natural for people to adopt laws that conform to local tradition, custom, and religion. Democracies, and federalist democracies especially, work best when there's plenty of room for local variation.

Unfortunately, the introduction of Sharia in northern Nigeria doesn't look much like the free expression of democracy to me -- mostly because I don't see that there's been much provision for the protection of minorities. I don't imagine that these new laws will have any effect except to legalize the persecution of Christians and any Muslims that don't happen to agree with the more fundamentalist interpretations. And how are women to be treated under Sharia? Will their testimony be accepted in court and will they be able to vote?

Not a hopeful turn of events.

The WSJ covers Thomas Mapfumo:
Mr. Mapfumo's concerts drew thousands of Zimbabweans who opposed the government's mounting repression, and he has met with opposition leaders and even mused about a role in a post-Mugabe government. The title of his new album, "Toi Toi," refers to a protest dance. "I am like a messenger of the people whenever I sing a song against my government," he rumbles in a bass register a couple of octaves below his singing range. "I'm not trying to blame anyone. I'm just saying, 'Let's be united, try to rebuild the economy of the country so the people can survive and prosper.'"

He paid a price for his protest: Some of his recent songs were banned from the radio, and other intimidation ensued; some former band members have lost family members to prisons and bullets. In 2000, when Mr. Mapfumo visited the head of his American record label, who was then living in Eugene, he realized the city would make an ideal home base away from the escalating threats and chaos of his homeland. "I'm here for my children," he explains. "I like America--it is a good place to live for a while."

I'm still wondering what happened to all of those people who protested against apartheid during the 80's. Zimbabwe doesn't seem to be getting nearly the same kind of attention.

Sorry for the non-blogging lately. My advisor is going to speak at this conference in Berlin next week, so I've had plenty of things to keep me busy.

Next week should be back to normal.

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