AFRICA/NIGER - Covid-19 "Protests due to confinement measures cause fear of assault on Christians"

Tuesday, 21 April 2020 coronavirus   persecutions   missionaries  

Niamey (Agenzia Fides) - "It was to be expected. There have been scenes of urban guerrilla warfare for several days in Niamey due to the 'confinement' measures caused by the Covid-19 pandemic", writes Fr. Mauro Armanino, missionary of the Society of African Missions (SMA) to Fides from the capital of Niger.
"The measures that affect, in particular, the closure of mosques and the curfew from 7 pm to 6 am the following day, have provoked, right from the beginning, protests on behalf of some citizens.
On the night of April 19, in various districts of the capital, there were protests. According to some testimonies, stones were thrown on a pastor's house, adjacent to the Protestant temple. Not far from a church, already destroyed in the past, some tires were set on fire. In both cases, the police intervened to disperse the demonstrators", reports the missionary.
According to Fr. Armanino "the sense of unease expressed by a fringe of the young population, expresses various feelings ranging from skepticism towards the existence of the disease to the identification of the disease itself with the West, Christian". "As a friend, a good connoisseur of Niamey's Nigerian society pointed out, whenever there is malaise towards political power, the easiest and most immediate scapegoat are Christians".
"In a few days the beginning of Ramadan, the holy month of Muslims, will be celebrated. The risk of an uprising that also implies attacking churches is possible", concludes the missionary.
Niger, one of the poorest States in the world, registered 648 Covid-19 cases on March 19, including 20 deaths, according to a report from the Ministry of Health. On April 12, the government extended Niamey's isolation from the rest of the Country, as well as a state of emergency and curfew (from 7pm to 6am). Places of worship and schools are closed. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 21/4/2020)