Hundreds of thousands protest Charlie Hebdo in Chechnya

More than 800,000 Chechens attended a rally against satirical cartoons of the prophet Mohammed published in Charlie Hebdo

Hundreds of thousands marched through the Chechen capital on Monday to protest the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which again put a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad on its cover.

Demonstrators in Grozny, capital of the predominantly Muslim region in southern Russia, released balloons and carried posters that read “Hands off our beloved prophet” and “We love the prophet, we don’t love Charlie.”

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov wrote on his official Instagram account Friday that those who defended the weekly Charlie Hebdo were his “personal enemies” and vowed that at least 1 million people would join the government-sponsored protest in Grozny.

On Monday, Kadyrov spoke from a stage wearing a vest with “We Love the Prophet Muhammad” written on it…

This is the sort of thing that people like Kadyrov really exploit: it unifies the population against an outside enemy and — for a while — keeps the focus off him, who is using draconian methods to track down his own terrorists.

More photos at The Daily Mail.