This case bears watching closely. Overruling civil legislation to accommodate Sharia will set a disastrous precedent for the future of human rights, and for the rights of women and non-Muslims in Nigeria.
ABUJA, Nigeria — A Nigerian federal court will hear a case over whether the West African nation’s religious freedom and privacy laws allow a Muslim senator to marry a 13-year-old girl, the latest rift in a country split between Christians and Muslims.
The lawsuit filed by the Supreme Council for Sharia in Nigeria on behalf of Senator Ahmad Sani Yerima challenges the country’s child protection laws that ban women from marrying before age 18. The suit, obtained Friday by The Associated Press, claims that Yerima’s constitutional rights are being trampled over the controversy surrounding his alleged marriage to a 13-year-old Egyptian girl.
It’s a common ploy the world over in courtroom jihad: pleading in the name of constitutional rights to advance an agenda that would trample those rights if given the chance.
“The Nigerian constitution guarantees and protects the privacy of any citizen (and) his family member … against invasion, intrusion and interference,” the lawsuit reads.
The suit names the government’s National Human Rights Commission, the Senate president and the speaker of the house as defendants. The Human Rights Commission has urged the police to investigate Yerima, while both chambers of the National Assembly have called for their own investigations.
Human rights groups say the 49-year-old lawmaker married the girl at the National Mosque in Abuja after paying her family a $100,000 dowry. Under child protection laws enforceable in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, a woman must be 18 before being able to consent to marriage. However, those laws aren’t enacted in all of Nigeria’s 36 states and activists say child brides have been married off in Muslim communities after their first period.
It also isn’t the first time Yerima has apparently married a child. The rights commission alleges he married a 15-year-old girl, only to divorce the young mother at 17.
Yerima himself appears unrepentant in recent interviews, though he has declined to say how old his new wife is. He told the BBC’s Hausa language service in April that he considers “God’s law and that of his prophet above any other law.”…
And, he observes, Muhammad also married a child.
One can only trust the apologists are burning up the phone lines trying to reach him and tell him Aisha was actually older, and that the account given Sahih Bukhari, for example, is a bunch of hooey taken out of context by cheeky Islamophobes.