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Nigeria sharia police smash 240,000 bottles of beer

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Police enforcing Islamic law in Nigeria's city of Kano publicly destroyed some 240,000 bottles of beer on Wednesday, the latest move in a wider crackdown on behaviour deemed "immoral" in the area.

The banned booze had been confiscated from trucks coming into the city in recent weeks, said officials from the Hisbah, the patrol tasked with enforcing the strict Islamic law, known as sharia.

Kano's Hisbah chief Aminu Daurawa said at the bottle-breaking ceremony he had "the ardent hope this will bring an end to the consumption of such prohibited substances".

A large bulldozer smashed the bottles to shouts of "Allahu Ahkbar" (God is Great) from supporters outside the Hisbah headquarters in Kano, the largest city in Nigeria's mainly Muslim north.

Kegs containing more than 8,000 litres of a local alcoholic brew called "burukutu" and 320,000 cigarettes were also destroyed.

"We hope this measure will help restore the tarnished image of Kano," said Daurawa.

Since September, the Hisbah have launched sweeping crackdowns and made hundreds of arrests in Kano following a state-government directive to cleanse the commercial hub of so-called "immoral" practices.

The 9,000-strong moral police force works alongside the civilian police but also has other duties, including community development work and dispute resolution.

Sharia was reintroduced across northern Nigeria in 2001, but the code has been unevenly applied.

Alcohol is typically easy to find in Kano, including at hotels and bars in neighbourhoods like Sabon Gari, inhabited by the city's sizeable Christian minority.

But the Hisbah boss vowed that this was set to change.

"We hereby send warning to unrepentant offenders that Hisbah personnel will soon embark on an operation into every nook and corner of (Kano) state to put an end to the sale and consumption of alcohol and all other intoxicants," Daurawa said.

People accused of engaging in prostitution and homosexual sex have been among those arrested in the latest crackdown, along with alleged drunks and drug addicts.

Nigeria is divided between a mostly Christian south and a predominately Muslim north.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/131127/nigeria-sharia-police-smash-240000-bottles-beer