Amid Charlie Hebdo Fallout, Police Clash With Violent Protesters Burning Down Christian Churches, Businesses

( [email protected] ) Jan 16, 2015 03:36 PM EST
Nigerien protests
Niger is one of the countries where violent protests have erupted over the most recent Charlie Hebdo cover. Photo: Reuters

While Europeans continue to be on high alert this week following a string of attacks in France and threats in Belgium, African Christians are also becoming increasing targets as police and Islamic militants continue to battle out the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attacks.

In the former French colony of Niger in West Africa, police used tear gas against a crowd of protesters who turned violent in the Nigerien city of Zinder, near the southern border with Nigeria. According to reports, hundreds of protesters were lighting tires on fire, burning down Christian churches, the French Cultural Centre, and trashing Christian-owned businesses in the area.

"The protesters are crying out in local Hausa language: 'Charlie is Satan - let hell engulf those supporting Charlie,'" according to a local shopkeeper.

Similar protests took place in the north African country of Algeria where protesters struck out with rocks, fireworks, and bottles, while riot pellets were fired from police trying to control the situation.

The protests started out as a peaceful demonstration of hundreds of men, women, and even children who were upset at the latest cover of the French satirical magazine which depicted the Muslim prophet Muhammad once again. The blame for the initial attack on the magazine was given as its original depiction of Muhammad, which is considered punishable by death by Islamic Sharia law.

"This is my religion. I am with my prophet and they criticized him," truck driver Mohammed Rechache said while protesting with his son before the demonstration became violent.

The jihadists who carried out the attack in France were all from Algeria, so the protests in the capital city of Algiers are a bit more personal for those there.

Things turned even uglier in Pakistan as police have so far shot into a crowd of protesters who were attacking the French Consulate in Karachi. Unfortunately, two of those shot were journalists there to cover the story, but all injured are stable, according to officials.

Interestingly enough, it's not clear whether the four injured were shot by police or by protesters who were shown by media outlets to be carrying guns. "When protesters tried to use force, police did the same," said Abdul Khaliq Shaikh, a senior police official.

In Jordan's capital city of Amman, an estimated 2,000 protesters organized by the Muslim Brotherhood battled it out with police, demanding the expulsion of the country's French ambassador.

All around the world, Muslim protesters are gathering together today in a show of solidarity against Charlie Hebdo's decision to show Muhammad on its cover again. In addition to the previously mentioned attacks on churches and French embassies, protesters are burning French flags and chanting various forms of "Charlie is Satan."

"We will praise anyone who chops off the hands or cuts off the head of a blasphemer," Abdul Rahman Makki, a senior leader of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa group, told a crowd of supporters in Islamabad.

"We are not like other nations who tolerate insult to their holy personality."

Luckily, these protests are also bringing out those citizens who have been living in fear of the Taliban, al Qaeda, and other Islamic terror groups. Civil society demonstrators in Pakistan held their own protests with signs reading, "Silence is Criminal" and "Hey Taliban leave our kids alone." The NY Times reports that similar anti-Taliban protests were being held in Islamabad and Lahore.