Pope Francis called on the faithful to pray for the victims of protests that have erupted in Niger.
For several days, citizens of the Muslim-majority country protested following the publishing of a cartoon of the prophet Mohammed by the French magazine, Charlie Hebdo. The magazine published the caricature several days after a terrorist attack on their offices two weeks ago, that left 12 people dead. Al-Qaeda in Yemen claimed responsibility for the attack in Paris.
According to local police, 10 people died and 45 churches were burned when the protests turned violent. The government has declared three days of mourning for those killed during the protests. Local sources say that some of the protesters carried signs supporting Boko Haram, the radical terrorist group that has plagued neighboring Nigeria.
During today’s General Audience, the Holy Father called on the faithful to pray for the victims of the violent protests.
“Brutalities have been committed against Christians, against children, against churches,” he said. “Let us pray to the Lord for the gift of reconciliation and peace, so that religious sentiment may never become an occasion of violence, oppression and destruction.”
“War,” he exclaimed, “cannot be made in the name of God!”
Concluding his appeal, Pope Francis expressed his hope that calm may be restored in the country, as well as a return to “mutual respect and peaceful coexistence for the good of all.”