The Mohammed cartoon protests have spread to Nigeria
In Niamey, the capital of Niger, the largest protest march against the cartoons in Africa so far was witnessed today, when an estimated 50 to 100,000 Muslims took to the streets. The peaceful demonstration was headed by most of the country's most prominent Muslim leaders, who "strongly condemned" what they called "provocations against Islam."
The large demonstration in Niamey, which had been authorised by the Nigerien government, seemed well organised and represented a rather non-radical expression of viewpoints. Only a small group of protesters left the main march, heading for the Niamey parliament while shouting anti-Western slogans. Lawmakers were urged to break diplomatic ties with Denmark and other countries where the caricatures have been published.
The situation could become more uncontrolled in northern Nigeria as protests today are spreading in this religiously polarised region. Christian leaders in Nigeria wisely have strongly denounced the Mohammed cartoons, showing their solidarity with the dominant Muslim society in northern Nigeria. Many local Christians have also participated in the demonstrations organised today.
The most radicalised protests were organised today in the northern Nigerian state of Kano, where around 40 representatives of the state assembly participated in the burning of Danish flags and promised to further a boycott of Danish products. The Kano parliament was now to cancel several multi-million dollar contract with Danish companies, it was announced. Radical anti-Western slogans were shouted.
What could account for the Christian response in that country? Turn the Wayback Machine to November 21, 2002:
The scene: Nigeria. Last Saturday, ThisDay, a newspaper in the northern city of Kaduna, published a column by Isioma Daniel that challenged the claims by Muslim protestors that the upcoming Miss Universe contest scheduled to be held in the capital city of Abuja on December 7 is an affront to Islam. "What would [the prophet] Muhammad think? In all honesty, he would probably have chosen a wife from among [the contestants]." The newspaper printed a brief retraction Monday and a lengthier one Thursday. Rioting broke out in Kaduna, killing over 50 and injuring over 200, with at least 10 churches burned. The newspaper's regional office in Kaduna was burned. Rioters looted shops and lit bonfires.