Friday March 22, 2019

Keeping aside Boko Haram terror, Northern Nigerian City Celebrates Traditional Festival

Residents of northern Nigerian city celebrated an ancient traditional festival in order to renew a pledge of respect to their ruler

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Northern Nigerian City
The Riders Wearing Robes and Holding Spears in the Celebration. VOA
  • Residents of northern Nigerian city celebrated an ancient traditional festival in order to pay respect to the ruler
  • The custom of Durbar celebration involved residents from villages and towns who dressed up in colourful robes and rode horses holding spears
  • The celebration saw gathering of more people than last year when people stayed indoor following an attack by the Boko Haram jihadists

Riders sporting warrior robes of bright colours and holding spears were again packing the streets of this northern Nigerian city, to greet their traditional ruler as the local residents celebrated a thousand-year-old tradition in a region hit by Boko Haram.

Last week the traditional ruler in Zaria city rode in a horse carriage to kick off the Durbar celebrations that mark the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

The Durbar is a custom dating back more than 1,000 years which involves warriors from villages and towns in Nigeria’s Muslim north travelling once a year to the emir’s palace to renew a pledge of respect to their ruler.

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But the thousands who packed the streets and minarets of mosques to watch were a far-cry from last year when many stayed indoors from fear following an attack by Boko Haram fighters that killed some 35 people in Zaria.

Nigerian City
Man Dressed as a Warrior, Rides a Horse in the Durbar Festival, Nigeria. Wikipedia

Now, following a military crackdown on the militant group, Alhaji Shehu Idris, Emir of Zazzau, rode to his palace.

He greeted people lining the pot-holed streets of this dusty city as he passed by, Once at the palace, he watched with officials as each area of his traditional constituency presented their turbaned chiefs and warriors in a mark of respect.

Several men — wearing white, red, blue or yellow robes – demonstrated their horse-riding skills on the unpaved parade ground. But some women and girls also walked during the procession.

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The Nigerian military has retaken much of the territory lost to the Boko Haram jihadists. But police cars and gun-wielding police officers posted at the unpaved parade ground in front of the palace were a reminder that suicide bombs by the group remain part of life in the northern region of the oil producer. (VOA)

  • Anubhuti Gupta

    In a world where everyone is choosing with technological advancements and abandoning their culture, it’s nice to see somewhere in the world it’s being preserved be it in whatever form

  • Manthra koliyer

    Celebrating traditional festivals gets people together.

Next Story

U.S. President Donald Trump Administration Says There Is No Return For US-Born Jihadist

The U.S. decision on Muthana comes amid rising debate in Europe on the nationality of extremists. Britain recently revoked the citizenship of Shamina Begum, who similarly traveled to Syria and wants to return to her country of birth. 

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U.S.
Two women, reportedly wives of IS fighters, wait with others in the internally displaced persons camp of al-Hol in al-Hasakeh governorate, Syria, Feb. 7, 2019. The United States is refusing to take back a U.S.-born IS propagandist, saying she is no longer a citizen. VOA

The United States said Wednesday that it would refuse to take back a U.S.-born Islamic State propagandist who wants to return from Syria, arguing that she is no longer a citizen.

The Trump administration’s refusal to admit Hoda Muthana, 24, could set precedent and face legal challenges, because it is generally extremely difficult to lose US citizenship.

“Ms. Hoda Muthana is not a U.S. citizen and will not be admitted into the United States,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement. “She does not have any legal basis, no valid U.S. passport, no right to a passport, nor any visa to travel to the United States.”

FILE - Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at a news conference at the State Department in Washington, Feb. 1, 2019.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at a news conference at the State Department in Washington, Feb. 1, 2019. VOA

“We continue to strongly advise all U.S. citizens not to travel to Syria,” he added.

Pompeo did not elaborate on the legal rationale for why the Alabama native, who is believed to have traveled to Syria on her U.S. passport, was not considered a citizen or where she should go instead.

Pompeo’s statement on Muthana — one of the comparatively few U.S.-born jihadists amid the hundreds of Europeans to have joined the ranks of the Islamic State group in Syria — is at odds with his calls on other countries to take back and prosecute their own jihadist nationals.

Just this weekend, President Donald Trump took to Twitter to chastise European allies who have not taken back IS prisoners caught in Syria.

US-born, then radicalized

Muthana was born in the United States to parents from Yemen who became naturalized American citizens, according to the Counter Extremism Project at George Washington University, which has identified 64 Americans who went to join IS in Syria or Iraq.

In late 2014, shortly after moving to Syria, Muthana posted on Twitter a picture of herself and three other women who appeared to torch their Western passports, including an American one.

She went on to write vivid calls over social media to kill Americans, glorifying the ruthless extremist group that for a time ruled vast swaths of Syria and Iraq.

But with IS down to its last stretch of land, Muthana has said she renounced extremism and wanted to return home.

Muthana, who has been detained by U.S.-allied Kurdish fighters, said that she had been brainwashed by reading social media as a closeted teenager in Hoover, Ala.

“To say that I regret my past words, any pain that I caused my family and any concerns I would cause my country would be hard for me to really express properly,” she said in a note to her lawyer reported by The New York Times.

Hassan Shibly, lawyer for 24-year-old Hoda Muthana, 24, is pictured in his office in Tampa, Fla., Feb. 20, 2019. The United States said Wednesday that it would refuse to take back Muthana, a U.S.-born Islamic State propagandist, who wants to return from Syria, saying that she is no longer a citizen.
Hassan Shibly, lawyer for 24-year-old Hoda Muthana, 24, is pictured in his office in Tampa, Fla., Feb. 20, 2019. The United States said Wednesday that it would refuse to take back Muthana, a U.S.-born Islamic State propagandist, who wants to return from Syria, saying that she is no longer a citizen. VOA

She was married three times to male jihadists and has a toddler son.

Hard to lose citizenship

The U.S. decision on Muthana comes amid rising debate in Europe on the nationality of extremists. Britain recently revoked the citizenship of Shamina Begum, who similarly traveled to Syria and wants to return to her country of birth.

Britain asserted that she was entitled to Bangladeshi citizenship because of her heritage, but the Dhaka government on Wednesday denied that she was eligible, leading her to become effectively stateless.

U.S. citizenship is significantly more difficult to lose. The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1868 after the Civil War as slavery was abolished, establishes that anyone born in the country is a citizen with full rights.

In recent years, it has been considered virtually impossible to strip Americans of citizenship, even if they hold dual nationality.

The U.S. Supreme Court in the landmark 1967 Afroyim decision rejected the government’s attempt to revoke the nationality of a Polish-born naturalized American after he voted in Israel.

And last year a federal judge rejected a government attempt to strip the nationality of a Pakistani-born naturalized American who was convicted in a plot to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge.

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But Trump has campaigned on a hard line over immigration and raised the prospect of ending birthright citizenship ahead of last year’s congressional elections.

In 2011, President Barack Obama ordered drone strikes that killed two Americans in Yemen — prominent al-Qaida preacher Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old son — but did not believe it was possible to revoke citizenship. (VOA)