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Islamic court bans online chat on amputations

From Christian Purefoy, CNN
A woman appears before an Islamic court in Nigeria in 2002.
A woman appears before an Islamic court in Nigeria in 2002.
  • In 2000, Sharia court ordered man's hand amputated for stealing a cow
  • Rights group was promoting discussion of amputation on 10th anniversary of case
  • Islamic court said discussions could lead to criticism of strict Islamic Sharia law
  • Nigeria
  • Islam
  • Religion

Lagos, Nigeria (CNN) -- An Islamic court in northern Nigeria has prohibited a human rights group from using social networking Web sites to discuss amputations as punishment, court records show.

The court in Kaduna city ordered the Civil Rights Congress of Nigeria not to have forums on Twitter, Facebook or other sites discussing the 2000 punishment of Mallam Bello Jangebe, whose right hand was amputated for stealing.

"It's the 10th anniversary of the amputation -- and we wanted to mark the anniversary by opening the discussion," said Shehu Sani, president of the Civil Rights Congress. "We reject and condemn the ban, and plan to challenge it in a higher court."

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The group opened the discussion on some sites last week. Sani said the court was concerned that the forums would criticize Sharia law. "But we just wanted to use it to get views," he said.

Jangebe's hand was cut off after he was convicted of stealing a cow, according to a report by Amnesty International.

The decision by Kaduna court Monday came after the Association of Muslim Brotherhood group decried planned forums in a lawsuit last week.

In its motion, the pro-Sharia group said the debate on social sites would mock the strict Islamic law as "negative issues will be discussed."

The page for a group on Facebook called "The amputation of Malam Buba Bello Jangebe" said it is "dedicated to discussions and debate relating to court-ordered amputations in Nigeria."

"Recently, a pro-Sharia group successfully argued that forums on Facebook and Twitter would mock the Sharia system .The intention of this group is to stimulate rational debate about the moral, social and legal implications of such a court ruling on our right to free speech and freedom of association," the statement on the site says.

The Facebook group, which has 16 members, called for a discussion on the matter to begin Wednesday. Only one comment has been posted under "discussions," and it says that "Islam is trying to shut down free speech worldwide."

-- CNN's Jonathan Pride contributed to this report.