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The Sharia Controversy in Northern Nigeria and the Politics of Islamic Law in New and Uncertain Democracies

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In recent years, scholars have struggled to explain high levels of support for both state-sponsored Islamic law (sharia) and democracy in many new Muslim-majority democracies. The origins of popular support for Islamic law in uncertain democratic environments can be considered using the case of Northern Nigeria, where twelve states implemented sharia through democratic institutions during the early 2000s. Sharia implementation movements gain popular support by framing problems common to new democracies (corruption, inequality, poor governance) as moral concerns to be addressed by the state's enforcement of ethical conduct. While sharia implementation has had a dubious effect on democratic governance in Nigeria and elsewhere, support for Islamic law is likely to endure within Muslim communities where governance remains poor.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 April 2013

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  • Comparative Politics is an international journal that publishes scholarly articles devoted to the comparative analysis of political institutions and behavior. It was founded in 1968 to further the development of comparative political theory and the application of comparative theoretical analysis to the empirical investigation of political issues. Comparative Politics communicates new ideas and research findings to social scientists, scholars, and students, and is valued by experts in research organizations, foundations, and consulates throughout the world.
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