Christianity crackdown: Church burned down by 150 protesters after iman arrested

Local iman Sheikh Rayadoune was arrested after he claimed the country’s proposed legislation on worship was “anti-Islamic”. According to eye witnesses, 150 Muslim protesters marched to the Assembly of God church in the Zaria neighbourhood on Saturday evening. The demonstrators also burned the pastor’s car.

Mr Rayadoune released a statement urging his supporters to stop creating trouble.

His statement said: “All my supporters must stop making trouble in the town. Islam does not recommend that. I have in no way been mistreated by the police.”

Mr Rayadoune has acknowledged his mistake and apologised shortly prior to his release.

He said he had read a bad translation of the draft law, which had been transcribed from French into Hausa and he said he would rectify his position at Friday prayers.

The Christian population makes up only one to two percent of the country of Niger, which is home to around 20 million people.

In 2015, there was a series of deaths and church burnings following the 2015 publications of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

The Charlie Hebdo publication sparked riots in the Nigerian city of Zinder, Maradi and Goure, which resulted in attacks on churches.

President Mahamadou Issoufou said at least ten people were killed over two days of protests.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said last month that the persecution of Christians in certain parts of the world is at near “genocide” levels.

A report Mr Hunt ordered to be conducted revealed that Christians were the most persecuted religious group in the world.

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