Nigeria: 'Sharia police' shut down theatres in northern Nigeria

Nigerian Islamic police have demolished four theatres in the north-western state of Kano in a campaign to stamp out anti-social and immoral behaviour.
The demolitions come after a reported lesbian marriage between a woman and four partners in one of the theatres.
Although the women denied the reported wedding, the Sharia police, known as the Hisbah, have decided to pull down theatres in the ancient Muslim city. The Hisbah accused theatre owners of turning their businesses into brothels.

"The way they have been spoiling and polluting our culture and religion is no longer acceptable that is why we feel demolishing the theatres has become absoultely necessary," Hisbah leader Abubakar Rabo told BBC. "Those theatres are no good. The whole purpose of permitting those theatres to operate in Kano has been compromised. It's either they are harbouring harlots or drug addicts and we can't allow that."

Already, the Sharia police have demolished four theatres and say more will have to go. The Hisbah group, which is run separately from the police, receives state government support.

But the theatre owners have denied the accusations and headed for the courts. "They are saying that we are committing crimes against Islam which is not true. They are giving people wrong perception about us, actually," Magaji 'Yan Maidi.

Lesbianism is illegal under Nigeria's penal code and the national parliament is considering tightening its laws on homosexuality.

Eleven other states in mostly Muslim northern Nigeria have adopted Sharia law.

11 May 2007