AFRICA/NIGER - Churches and convents burned, schools and dispensaries closed

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Niamey (Agenzia Fides) - "Between Friday 16 and Saturday 17 January, various churches and religious communities in Niger suffered extensive damage because of demonstrators protesting against the publication of the French weekly Charlie Hebdo. In the Diocese of Maradi and Niamey, several churches were burned, along with some religious houses. Other Protestant churches were also affected by the protesters". This was confirmed to Agenzia Fides by Fr. Nicolas Ayouba, Superior of the Redemptorists of Niger, who adds: "According to the latest news, our Community of St. Clement of Niamey was not attacked, while the church of St. Gabriel yes. All the Redemptorists are still in good condition".
The churches of St. Paul, St. Augustine, St. Gabriel, St. John, St. Teresa and St. Joseph were burned and looted in Niamey, as well as two convents of nuns. Because of the situation, all Sunday celebrations were suspended.
The Apostolic Administrator of Nyamey, His Exc. Mgr. Michel Cartatéguy told Vatican Radio: "As a Christian community, we are still under shock. All our churches - 12 out of 14 - have been completely looted: there is nothing left ... everything is burned. The cathedral was not touched, because of my request to monitor it. We have suspended all activities of the Catholic mission; we have closed our schools, our dispensaries ... We are not able to understand what is going on. I summoned all the priests and community leaders to pray in silence, and we meditated on love for enemies. Many of our religious, who today have lost everything, were protected and still are by Muslim families. I said to the highest authorities: 'We have nothing against the Muslim community, on the contrary'. Indeed, we must further strengthen the bonds of unity and brotherhood that we have built". (SL) (Agenzia Fides 21/01/2015)