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'Islamic law must conform to customs'

AFP, The Straits Times, 1 March 2001

KANO (Nigeria)—The implementation of the Syariah, or strict Islamic law, should be in accordance with local customs and norms, said visiting Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid.

'There is a need for Islamic countries to study deeply the Islamic law so that it conforms to the local ways of thinking, culture, norms and values of respective Muslim societies,' added Mr Abdurrahman at a reception in Kano, northern Nigeria's biggest Islamic city, on Tuesday.

Even Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim country, has its own interpretation of Islamic law.

'For instance in Indonesia, we have our version of Islamic jurisprudence which is a derivation from the original Syariah,' he said.

Mr Abdurrahman is on a two-day visit to Nigeria.

Kano is among the nine states in Nigeria where the Syariah has been introduced since the country returned to civil rule in May 1999, despite opposition from Christians, human rights bodies, and the Nigerian government.

Mr Abdurrahman and Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo also signed accords to boost trade between the two countries.

Currently, bilateral trade stands at 390 million dollars per year, dominated by trade in oil, with non-oil trade accounting for just 20 million dollars, officials said.

Mr Obasanjo has accepted an invitation to visit Indonesia in May where he is expected to sign an investment protection protocol. - AFP