Cartoon Protestors Burn 15 Churches in Deadly Nigeria Attacks

Nigerian Muslims angry over the caricatures of the Muslim prophet Muhammad attacked Christians and burned churches during a protest on Saturday, killing at least 15 people in the deadliest confrontation yet over the drawings.

|TOP|Mobs of Muslim protesters flooded the northeast city of Maiduguri with machetes, sticks and iron rods, reported an Associated Press journalist that witnessed the event. One group threw a tyre around a man, poured gasoline on him and set him on fire.

Reports indicated that within three hours, thousands of rioters burned 15 churches in Maiduguri before security forces were able to restore order.

The violence marked the first major protest to occur in Africa’s most populous nation and one of many that have taken place in recent weeks after the controversial cartoons, first printed by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten last September, were reprinted in European media and elsewhere. One of the cartoons depicts Muhammad wearing a turban shaped like a bomb with an ignited fuse. Muslims consider any depiction of Allah and their prophets to be blasphemy.

|AD|In Nigeria, tension had been building between Christians and Muslims as thousands of deaths have resulted from conflicts in recent years.

Nigeria has a population of more than 130 million and is roughly divided between a predominantly Muslim north and a Christian south.

Chima Ezeoke, a Christian Maiduguri resident, said protestors in Saturday’s confrontation attacked and looted shop owned by minority Christians.

"Most of the dead were Christians beaten to death on the streets by the rioters," Ezeoke told AP.

Witnesses said three children and a priest were among those killed.

The Associated Press estimates that at least 45 people have been killed in protests across the Muslim world counting Saturday’s death.

Michelle Vu
Christian Today Correspondent

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