Protests of the controversial Charlie Hebdo cartoons have continued for one week in Niger, leading Catholic churches in the region to cancel mass services for safety reasons. The protests began in the city of Zinder last week and spread across the country; at least people have been killed at many churches have been set on fire in the violent riots.
Christian Today reports that Catholic churches felt compelled to cancel services and activities, as the building were not safe.
Archbishop Michel Cartateguy of Niamey said that almost all of the churches in his diocese have been destroyed.
"Nothing remains, they were totally burned,” he said. “Only the cathedral is still standing."
Catholic leaders have said that the cancellation of church activities will allow Christians to reflect on the events and pray for peace.
Pope Francis spoke against the violence in Niger during his weekly audience at St. Peter’s Square.
"One cannot make war in God's name. Religious sentiments are never an occasion for violence, oppression and destruction," France said Wednesday (Jan. 21).
Publication date: January 23, 2015