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More than 200 people are dead, some two dozen churches and thousands of homes have been destroyed, and much of the Christian population of the Nigerian city of Kaduna driven into exile -- all because of a single joke by a Nigerian journalist.
The joke was inspired by the controversy over the siting of this year's Miss World contest in Nigeria. Responding to Islamic extremists who denounced the contest, Isioma Daniel, the fashion writer for the Nigerian paper ThisDay, quipped in the paper's Nov. 16 edition that the prophet Muhammad would not have objected to the pageant; indeed, if he were alive, he would want the winner for his wife.
It is hard to understand what precisely was so objectionable about this remark. The Koran itself tells us that Muhammad had a lively appreciation of feminine beauty. On a visit one day to his adopted son Zaid, Muhammad was struck by the loveliness of Zaid's wife,...