A French cultural centre in Niger’s second city Zinder was set ablaze Friday during a protest against satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, which ran a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed on the cover of its first issue after last week’s terrorist attacks.
An angry crowd of around 50 demonstrators broke through the building’s front entrance before setting fire to the cafeteria, library and offices, ignoring warning shots fired by two police guards, the centre’s director, Kaoumi Bawa, told AFP.
The violence came as hundreds gathered in Zinder to protest against Charlie Hebdo, which defiantly ran a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed on the front page of its first issue since 12 people were killed in an attack on the publication’s offices in Paris last Wednesday.
For the majority of Muslims, any depiction of the Prophet Mohammed is considered offensive.
“Protesters were shouting ‘Charlie is the devil’ and ‘May hell swallow those who support Charlie Hebdo’ in the Hausa language,” Aboubacar Mamane, a local shopkeeper, told Reuters by telephone.
Three churches were also vandalised in the unrest, according to local authorities.
Zinder was just one of many cities across the Muslim world where protests were staged Friday against Charlie Hebdo’s decision to publish the Mohammed cartoon.