Foaming-at-the-mouth Muslim demonstrators in Niger attacked the French cultural centre, set fire to churches and raided Christian shops today, as protests erupted against Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons in several Muslim West African countries.
As a result, NIGERhas banned the distribution of Charlie Hebdo in the country over the French satirical weekly’s publication of blasphemous cartoons of Islam’s holy Prophet Muhammad. Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou has instructed the Niamey government to “ban the publication and sale of this issue across the country,” the statement added.
UK Daily MailPolice in Niger’s southern city of Zinder, the second largest in Niger, fired tear gas at a crowd of hundreds of people who burned French flags and tyres in the streets on Friday. “The protesters are crying out in local Hausa language: Charlie is Satan – let hell engulf those supporting Charlie,” said Aboubacar Mamane, a shopkeeper, by telephone.
Witnesses said the demonstrators ransacked the French cultural centre and the homes of police officers. Demonstrators said they were angered by the latest front cover of Charlie Hebdo this week, which despite the Paris killings again featured a cartoon of Mohammad. “Charlie Hebdo in the toilets,” said one placard held by a protestor in Nouakchott.
The presidents of Niger, Mali and Senegal last week marched alongside more than a million French citizens to show solidarity with the victims of the Paris bloodshed, which began with a shooting attack on Charlie Hebdo’s Paris office.
But in an indication of the shifting mood, Macky Sall, president of one of Africa’s most stable democracies Senegal, said late on Thursday: “Freedom of the press should not, in our view, head in the direction of a totally pointless provocation.”