Over the weekend of January 16, Muslim protests against the latest depiction of the Prophet Mohammed by French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, devolved into violent mobs that proceeded to burn and ransack as many as 70 churches and dozens of Christian homes and businesses across Niger. A 97% Muslim country located in West Africa, Niger’s historically tolerant Muslim population has been radicalized by Gulf state imams’ harshly conservative teachings over the past 2-3 decades.
01/25/2014 Niger (World Watch Monitor) – The Christian community in Niger says it is in shock in the wake of weekend violence that has claimed the lives of ten people and led to the destruction of dozens of places of worship and Christian homes.
The protest, which started in the country’s second city, Zinder, on Friday January 16, quickly spread to surrounding areas before reaching the capital Niamey on Saturday.
Ten people have died, and 45 churches burned down in the two days of violence, the police say. But information gathered by World Watch Monitor revealed that more than 70 churches have been destroyed, along with numerous Christian schools and organisations, including an orphanage “The Good Samaritan’’ run by the Assembly of God Church. The 40 children of the orphanage are currently in ‘‘disarray’’ under the care of police.
Over 30 Christian homes were believed to be looted and burnt down. Those affected say the violence has left them with “only the clothes on our backs”.