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RIOT-HIT MISS WORLD IS MOVED TO LONDON; Beauty contest flees Nigeria as 100 die in violent protests.

Byline: TOM NEWTON DUNN

MISS World was dramatically moved to England last night after the beauty contest triggered riots in Nigeria which left more than 100 people dead.

Organisers took the decision to hold it in London on December 7 in the wake of three days of violence.

A statement said: "The Miss World Organisation have decided to move the grand finale to London.

"This decision was taken after careful consideration of all the issues involved and in the overall interests of Nigeria and the contestants."

Earlier yesterday, Miss England Daniella Luan, withdrew from the competition when it became clear it wasn't safe to carry on.

A spokeswoman for Daniella, 21, said: "She is very frightened. She'll be coming home on the next available flight. I'm concerned for her safety and so are her parents."

Miss Scotland Paula Murphy, 24, said: "I saw TV pictures of the rioting when I woke up this morning and I felt sick. A beauty contest is not worth people dying over."

Paula, a qualified doctor from Stirling, added: "We're being used as the excuse. People are killing each other and saying it is all about Miss World - I can't have that."

The controversial event was plunged into crisis when violent protests spread from the north of the country to the capital, Abuja.

Muslim youths last night went on the rampage close to where the Miss World contestants are staying amid tight security. Suspected Christians were attacked and vehicles set alight as police fought to regain control. Contestants from five countries - Costa Rica, Denmark, Switzerland, South Africa and Panama - had already boycotted the event after an Islamic court in Nigeria sentenced Amina Lawal to death by stoning for committing adultery.

More than 100 people have already died and another 500 been seriously injured during three days of rioting in the northern city of Kaduna.

The disturbances began after a Nigerian newspaper suggested that Islam's founding Prophet Mohammed might have picked one of the contestants as his wife.

Hardline Muslim groups branded Miss World "degrading to women" and demanded that it be cancelled.

Kaduna's deserted streets were last night littered with burned-out cars. Hundreds of terrified residents had fled the city.

One witness said: "We're all afraid. God knows if this will end."

Bello Mijinyawa, a Muslim resident, said: "Two of my sons were killed at home today. They were taken away and their bodies burnt."

Young Muslim men crying, "Allahu Akhbar," ignited barricades of tyres and rubbish.

Others chanted: "Down with beauty" and "Miss World is sin".

In neighbourhoods dominated by the city's Christian minority, witnesses claimed youths smashed windows and set fires in mosques.

CAPTION(S):

SLAUGHTER: Nigerian riot police stand by victims of the rioting in Kaduna. Right, Miss England Daniella Luan
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:6NIGR
Date:Nov 23, 2002
Words:459
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