LAGOS, Nigeria (AP)- A group of learned Islamic clerics and scholars on Thursday rejected calls for the death of a Nigerian journalist blamed for sparking deadly Muslim-Christian riots with an article about the Miss World contest. "The Zamfara state government has no authority to issue a fatwa, and the fatwa issued by it should be ignored," the Jama'atu Nasril Islam said in a brief statement Thursday. The group includes a number of leading Muslim clerics and scholars from across Nigeria. More than 200 people were killed last week in fighting between Muslims and Christians in the northern city of Kaduna. The rioting was triggered by a newspaper article in the Nigerian newspaper ThisDay that suggested the Muslim prophet Muhammad would have approved of the Miss World pageant and might have wanted to marry a contestant. Mahamoud Shinkafi, the deputy governor of the predominantly Muslim northern state of Zamfara, urged Muslims on Monday to kill Isioma Daniel, the woman who wrote the article. Other state officials said the order should be viewed as a "fatwa," or religious edict. Information Minister Jerry Gana responded that the federal government would overrule the death order, which he called "unconstitutional." Daniel, a fashion journalist in her early 20s, is believed to have gone into hiding. The Miss World pageant pulled its contestants out of Nigeria on Sunday, moving the Dec. 7 finale to London.
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