The only useful stand Helen Clark took against Islamic expansion:
“It is not a “good look” for Miss New Zealand to attend the Miss World pageant in Nigeria while a woman there faces death by stoning, Prime Minister Helen Clark said today.”
PM wades in to Miss World debate
It is not a “good look” for Miss New Zealand to attend the Miss World pageant in Nigeria while a woman there faces death by stoning, Prime Minister Helen Clark said today.
“It does seem a little odd to have a participant in a Miss World competition in Nigeria, when in the north of that country a young woman faces death by stoning because she had a baby out of wedlock,” Miss Clark told reporters today.
Miss Clark said she was aware participants from several countries were withdrawing, and called on the New Zealand organisers to reconsider.
Miss New Zealand organisers have already said they will not buckle to growing pressure to boycott the pageant.
The YWCA at the weekend called for 17-year-old Miss New Zealand Rachel Huljich to join five other countries in boycotting the November 30 event.
It was not up to the Government to tell organisers what to do, Miss Clark said.
“I would hope that the organisers in New Zealand would be in touch with those other countries which are expressing concern to the point of not wishing to participate,” she said.
“Obviously the Government isn’t in the business of telling private organisations what they can and can’t do when they send people away, but my own gut feeling would be that it isn’t a good look.”
London’s New Zealand High Commissioner, Russell Marshall, presented his credentials to the Nigerian government in Abuja, the capital, on Friday.
Miss Clark said she would be very surprised if he had not raised New Zealand objections to the death sentence.
She would also be surprised if Nigeria dismissed worldwide outcry over the sentence.
She understood a similar sentence had been overturned after world outrage.
“One very much hopes that would be the case in this case. I would be surprised if Nigeria was not very much sensitive to international opinion.”
Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff last month wrote to the Nigerian foreign minister expressing opposition to the sentence.
The verdict was handed down by the Nigerian Islamic Court in the Muslim-dominated northern region of the country in July.
New Zealand first raised the case with the Nigerian Government through diplomatic channels in July.
A Nigerian Islamic court last month upheld the sentence but Amina Lawal, a young village housewife, has three higher courts to which she can appeal.
France, Belgium, Ivory Coast, Norway and Kenya have boycotted the event, while The Netherlands, Germany, Finland, Denmark, Togo, Bulgaria and Poland are all considering a boycott.
The European Union has also called for a boycott.
Miss New Zealand organiser Mark Taylor said last week the situation in Nigeria was being monitored by Miss World organisers.
“There is still a couple of months to go before the event and a lot can happen before then,” he said.
“In a lot of ways, more can be done by being there and having something to say. And from what I can tell reading about it, nobody has ever actually been stoned.”
Two women who were due to be stoned to death earlier this year after they were found guilty of adultery were acquitted by a Muslim court on appeal.
Ms Huljich said last week Nigerian court decisions to execute women convicted of adultery were disgraceful but she still hoped the pageant went ahead.