Nigeria's first lady denies funding tie to beauty pageant involved in Muslim disputes

Posted: Friday, November 01, 2002

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) -- Nigerian first lady Stella Obasanjo has denied her charity for orphans and abused children is helping pay for the upcoming Miss World pageant, a contest that has drawn the ire of the nation's Muslims.

Obasanjo said she is promoting the beauty pageant only in her capacity as Nigeria's tourism ambassador, and that promoters were funding the event. However, Obasanjo is hosting a dinner in London on Nov. 10 with Miss World organizers to raise money for her charity, which is also backed by three United Nations agencies.

Muslim leaders, representing about half the 120 million Nigerians, have branded the pageant immoral. Meanwhile, several nations are boycotting the pageant to protest Nigerian courts' death sentences for women convicted of adultery, in line with Muslim law.

The event was rescheduled from Nov. 30 to Dec. 7 after Muslims protested and threatened to disrupt a beauty pageant occurring during the holy month of Ramadan.

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