Charlie Hebdo Protests Hit Mideast, Asia, Africa

Jordanians gather to protest against cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad in the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, after Friday prayers in Amman, Friday, Jan. 16, 2015.

Jordanians gather to protest against cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad in the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, after Friday prayers in Amman, Friday, Jan. 16, 2015.

French President Francois Hollande on Saturday defended free speech, saying that anti-Charlie Hebdo protesters in other countries do not understand France’s attachment to freedom of speech.

His remarks come a day after throngs of Muslims around the world held protests against the depiction of the Prophet Muhammad by the French satirical weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo, with some of the demonstrations turning violent.

Yemenis chant slogans during a protest against caricatures published in French magazine Charlie Hebdo in front of the French Embassy in Sanaa, Yemen, Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015.
Yemenis chant slogans during a protest against caricatures published in French magazine Charlie Hebdo in front of the French Embassy in Sanaa, Yemen, Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015.

In Yemen, protesters gathered Saturday in front of the French Embassy in Sanaa, chanting slogans against caricatures published in French satirical weekly.

In Niger, at least four people were killed in the southern town of Zinder, where protesters set fire to a French cultural center and several churches and attacked Christian shops with clubs and Molotov cocktails, while police responded with tear gas.

Three civilians died, including two who were shot by police during an attack on their station, Interior Minister Hassoumi Massaoudou said on state television. A police officer was run over and killed, while 45 other people were injured.

  • Men move a policeman by stretcher who was wounded after being hit by stones during a protest organized by Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba (JTI), the student wing of religious political party Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), against the satirical French weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo, Jan. 16, 2015.

“Zinder experienced a quasi-insurrectional situation,” said Massaoudou. “I would like to reassure Christians that the state is here to defend those living in Niger at all costs.”

Witnesses said the crowd of mostly youths also ransacked the the homes of police officers and the local headquarters of President Mahamadou Issoufou’s party.

“The protesters are crying out in local Hausa language: ‘Charlie is Satan — let hell engulf those supporting Charlie,’ ” said Aboubacar Mamane, a shopkeeper.

The streets were calmer by nightfall, residents said.

Violent demonstrations also occurred in Karachi, Pakistan, where several hundred protesters clashed with police. A photographer with the French news agency AFP was reported to be among three people wounded.

Protests also took place in other major Pakistani cities, including Islamabad and Lahore.

In Algiers, Algeria, police clashed with demonstrators who threw rocks and bottles around the waterfront area of the capital. Hundreds of people had earlier marched peacefully through the capital, waving placards saying “I am Muhammad.”

Largely peaceful marches took place in the capitals of West African countries Mali, Senegal and Mauritania.

Jordanians chant slogans during a protest against cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad in the French magazine Charlie Hebdo, after Friday prayers in Amman, Jan. 16, 2015.
Jordanians chant slogans during a protest against cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad in the French magazine Charlie Hebdo, after Friday prayers in Amman, Jan. 16, 2015.

In Amman, Jordanians gathered to protest against satirical French cartoons, after Friday prayers.

In Sudan, protesters took to the streets of Khartoum to protest against France and Charlie Hebdo. Some carried large banners bearing such slogans as “Death for French” and “Charlie Hebdo offends the Prophet.”

Elsewhere, protesters marched in Amman, Jordan, and Istanbul, Turkey.

The latest issue of Charlie Hebdo shows a weeping depiction of the Prophet Muhammad on its cover, holding a sign reading “Je Suis Charlie” [“I Am Charlie”] under the headline “All is Forgiven.”  It was the first edition since gunmen attacked the magazine’s offices in Paris last week, killing 12 people.

Many Muslims view the magazine’s caricatures of Muhammad as insults to Islam.

In Islam, visual representations of all the prophets and messengers of God are prohibited in order to prevent idolatry, and the worshipping of the images themselves rather than God.

Ayaz Gul contributed to this report from Islamabad, and some information came from Reuters.

VOA NEWS

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