Charlie Hebdo: ‘Four dead’ in Niger outbreak of cartoonphobia, protests also underway in Algeria

Protests against the magazine have taken place across the Muslim world, including Sudan (pictured)

(Reuters) – Demonstrators in Niger attacked the French cultural center, set fire to churches and raided Christian shops on Friday, as protests erupted against Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons in several Muslim West African countries.

Staff of the satirical French weekly, which had angered Muslims by publishing images of the Prophet Mohammad, were shot dead by Islamist gunmen in Paris last week.

SENEGAL-FRANCE-ATTACKS-CHARLIE-HEBDO-DEMOThere were also demonstrations in Senegal Photo: SEYLLOU/AFP

Police 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 tires 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 center and the homes of police officers.

Meanwhile, Algerian police and protesters clash after anti-Charlie Hebdo march: (Reuters) – Police clashed with demonstrators in Algiers after rioting broke out at the end of a protest against the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad in the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Several officers were injured during the violence, with small groups of protesters hurling rocks, fireworks and bottles at the security forces around the waterfront area of the Algerian capital.

Dozens of people were arrested, and two Islamist leaders, Ali Belhadj and Hamadache Zeraoui, were detained for illegally organizing a march in Algiers where demonstrations are still banned, a security source said.

Hundreds of people, including women and children, had earlier marched peacefully through the capital chanting “God is Great”, singing and waving placards saying “I am Mohammad” in French and Arabic to protest against Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons.

“This is my religion. I am with my prophet and they criticized him,” said Mohammed Rechache, a truck driver who took part in the Algiers march with his young son.