“Some Muslims often cross the religious divide – under the cover of darkness – from the Sharia part of Kano to Sabon Gari for dancing, alcohol and sex.” But not for long, if the religious police have any say in the matter.
By Senan Murray for BBC News (thanks to Twostellas):
The Sharia police, or Hisbah, say they will soon commence raids in an enclave in northern Nigeria’s ancient Muslim city of Kano – dubbed by locals as “pleasure island”.
The Hisbah have given themselves the task of enforcing morals and Islamic law in the city but so far, have largely left Sabon Gari, or New Town, alone, complete with its bars, brothels and night-clubs.
But they say they must stamp out such “sinfulness” in case it “pollutes” the rest of the city.
Sabon Gari has always been a district populated by “settlers” or non-Muslim southern traders and professionals who have settled and worked in Kano.
But after years of ethnic and religious violence, much of Kano’s small Christian population withdrew further to Sabon Gari to seek safety in numbers.
This has resulted in a peaceful co-existence between residents of the area and the rest of the city.
Sabon Gari also happens to be one of Kano’s biggest ghettos, with blocked sewers, gullied streets and piles of rubbish on almost every street corner.
Cannabis is also openly smoked in this part of the city and pipe-born water is even rarer than in the rest of Kano.
Kano is among a dozen states in northern Nigeria practising Sharia law, despite initial strong opposition from the federal government, Christians and human rights groups.
More than a dozen Muslims have been sentenced to death by stoning for sexual offences like adultery and homosexuality since the Sharia legal system was introduced in 2000.
Many others have been sentenced to flogging for drinking alcohol.
Two petty thieves have also had their hands amputated – but no death sentences have so far been carried out.
The BBC News website learnt that some Muslims often cross the religious divide – under the cover of darkness – from the Sharia part of Kano to Sabon Gari for dancing, alcohol and sex.
“I often bring many of them here at night to drink,” says Mohammed, a taxi driver in the city.
“It’s an open secret, my brother. The code is thou shall not be caught,” he says with a knowing smile.
Mohammed wouldn’t say whether he also makes the nocturnal pilgrimage to the city’s pleasure island.
“As long as no-one sees you, you remain a good Muslim and the Hisbah can’t come after you.”