Muslim anger blew up over a French satirical weekly’s latest caricature of the Prophet Muhammad, with four people reported killed and dozens injured at a protest Friday in the West African country of Niger, as well as violent clashes between demonstrators and police in Pakistan, Jordan and Algeria. Associated Press reports:
Supporters say the cartoon on the cover of Charlie Hebdo is a defiant expression of free speech following a terrorist attack on the publication’s Paris offices that killed 12 people on Jan. 7, but many Muslims viewed it as another attack on their religion.
The new issue has a drawing of Muhammad, with a tear rolling down his cheek and a placard that reads “Je Suis Charlie” — a saying that has swept France and the world since the killings. The depiction of the prophet is deemed insulting to many followers of Islam.
A French cultural center was set ablaze by protesters in the town of Zinder in southern Niger, and one security officer and three demonstrators were killed in the melee, said Interior Minister Hassoumi Massaoudou. Another 20 security officers and 23 civilians were injured, he said.
The government of Niger, a former French colony, has banned the sale of Charlie Hebdo.
Many of the protests across the Muslim world began after midday prayers Friday, Islam’s holy day.