Culture Politics

Churches in Niger and other former French colonies torched over Charlie Hebdo cartoons

Sheikh Saliou Mbacke, the coordinator of Interfaith Action for Peace in Africa, pictured here, says while he strongly condemns the attacks on churches in Niger, cartooning a revered figure was an act of provocation that could not be justified by freedom of expression. Religion News Service photo by Fredrick Nzwili

NAIROBI, Kenya ( RNS) Cartoon depictions of the Prophet Muhammad are proving costly for Christians in majority-Muslim countries in Africa.

At least 45 churches were torched over the weekend in Niger, in two days of protests that left about 10 people dead. The targeted churches were mainly of the evangelical denominations built on the left bank of Niamey, the capital city.

Three other churches were ransacked on Friday (Jan. 16) and three people were killed in Zinder, Niger’s second-biggest city. A French cultural center burned down in the city as other marches unfolded in Mali, Senegal, Mauritania and Algeria — all former French colonies.

Christians’ homes and businesses have also been attacked as enraged mobs clash with police in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack in Paris on Jan. 7, in which gunmen killed 12 people working for the satirical weekly. The subsequent publication of more Muhammad cartoons in Charlie Hebdo’s latest edition prompted renewed violence.

Sheikh Saliou Mbacke, the coordinator of Interfaith Action for Peace in Africa, pictured here, says while he strongly condemns the attacks on churches in Niger, cartooning a revered figure was an act of provocation that could not be justified by freedom of expression. Religion News Service photo by Fredrick Nzwili

Sheikh Saliou Mbacke, the coordinator of Interfaith Action for Peace in Africa, said that although he strongly condemns the attacks on churches in Niger, cartooning a revered figure was an act of provocation that could not be justified by freedom of expression. Religion News Service photo by Fredrick Nzwili

Sheikh Saliou Mbacke, coordinator of the Interfaith Action for Peace in Africa, said he strongly condemned the attacks on churches in Niger, but cartoons of such a revered figure were an act of provocation that could not be justified by freedom of expression.

“Muslim demonstrations to express their anger are legitimate,” said Mbacke, a Muslim leader from the Muridiya Sufi Community of Senegal. “I join all Muslims in the world to also express my anger for the cartooning of Prophet Muhammad.”

In Sudan, hundreds of people staged demonstrations in Khartoum but were blocked by police from reaching the French Embassy and French cultural center in the city.

Students in Somalia took to the streets on Saturday (Jan. 17) with placards saying “Je Suis Muslim, et j’aime mon Prophete,” or “I am Muslim and I love my prophet.”

YS/MG END NZWILI

About the author

Fredrick Nzwili

Fredrick Nzwili is a journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya. For more than 15 years, he has written about religion, politics, peace and conflict, development, security, environment and wildlife. His articles have appeared in international media organizations among others; The Tablet, The Christian Science Monitor, The National Geographic and Kenyan local newspapers; The Standard and the People Daily.

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  • Just another sign that we humans are living in the last days of this wicked era (Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21; 2 Timothy 3:1-5) and that God’s kingdom or heavenly government (Daniel 2:44; Matthew 4:7) will soon intervene in man’s affairs before man kills each other off.

    God’s government will soon put an end to all wicked ones/terrorists on the planet (Isaiah 11:4; Psalm 37:10,11), and make all things right for all remaining meek ones in all nations on earth. Something marvelous to look forward to from God and his son, Christ Jesus, King of God’s government!!

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