Nigeria Cartoon Riot Kills at Least 15

Nigerian Muslims have murdered at least fifteen Christians in protests over cartoons published in a Danish newspaper five months ago.

Nigerian Muslims protesting caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad attacked Christians and burned churches on Saturday, killing at least 15 people in the deadliest confrontation yet in the whirlwind of Muslim anger over the drawings.

It was the first major protest to erupt over the issue in Africa’s most populous nation. An Associated Press reporter saw mobs of Muslim protesters swarm through the city center with machetes, sticks and iron rods. One group threw a tire around a man, poured gas on him and set him ablaze.

In Libya, the parliament suspended the interior minister after at least 11 people died when his security forces attacked rioters who torched the Italian consulate in Benghazi. Right-wing Italian Reforms Minister Roberto Calderoli resigned under pressure, accused of fueling the fury in Benghazi by wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with one of the offending cartoons, first published in September in a Danish newspaper.

Danish church officials met with a top Muslim cleric in Cairo, meanwhile, but made no significant headway in defusing the conflict.

And in what has become a daily event, tens of thousands of Muslims protested — this time in Britain, Pakistan and Austria — to denounce the perceived insult. On Sunday, some 400 protesters pelted the U.S. Embassy in Indonesia with rocks, tomatoes and eggs. They burned U.S. flags and smashed the windows of a guard post before dispersing.

But it was in Nigeria, where mutual suspicions between Christians and Muslims have led to thousands of deaths in recent years, that tensions boiled over into sectarian violence. Thousands of rioters burned 15 churches in Maiduguri in a three-hour rampage before troops and police reinforcements restored order, Nigerian police spokesman Haz Iwendi said. Iwendi said security forces arrested dozens of people in the city about 1,000 miles northeast of the capital, Lagos.

Chima Ezeoke, a Christian Maiduguri resident, said protesters attacked and looted shops owned by minority Christians, most of them with origins in the country’s south. “Most of the dead were Christians beaten to death on the streets by the rioters,” Ezeoke said. Witnesses said three children and a priest were among those killed.

There have been dozens of people killed in rioting over these cartoons. Most of the others, at least, were rioters killed by police forces or private security forces trying to protect lives and property. These are the first mass murders of innocent bystanders.

Interestingly, the New York Times apparently thinks this worth only a casual mention. Relegated to the International section is their story, “Italian Quits Over Cartoons; 15 Die in Nigeria.” So, the murder of fifteen innocents rates second mention to the resignation of some minor Italian official?

Update: Nearly four hours later, I’m still waiting for photos of the incident to hit the wires. YahooNews has a slideshow entitled “Muslims Offended by Danish Cartoons” — gotta love, by the way, the emphasis being of the Muslims’ feelings rather than the murders they’re committing — but if any feature the Nigerian riots they are buried deep.

Update 2: Michelle Malkin has compiled a chronological list of Islamist murders of Christians in Nigeria over the years. The post is quite long.


See the twelve cartoons that sparked the protests at my Danish Muslim Cartoons page.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Eneils Bailey says:

    New York Times apparently thinks this worth only a casual mention.

    Of course, they will downplay these looney tunes cartoon rioting going on throughout the world. It does not play into their strategy that President Bush is solely responsible for inflaming the Islamic thug clerics.
    The editorial cartoons, not the reason, only an excuse to go kill the infidels.

  2. G A PHILLIPS says:

    Yes, we are knee deep in a holy war and nobody in the left wing zombie mob media gives a great blue hell.

  3. ken says:

    James, your editorializing about the news treatment of this matter is not just juvinile but also misleading. If one reads the article you criticize it is plain that you are way off base.

  4. ken says:

    And, please, do not bring up examples from the Medieval period. Civilization marches forward. Or, at least, it has in the Christian and Muslim world. That Islam is theologically stuck in the 7th Century does not allow its adherents to conduct themselves as if this were the Dark Ages.

    Two points:

    1) This is not true. See the debate over science vs christianity for instance with christian fundementist trying to impose on us a world view that is antithical to progress.

    2) Plus the violence advocated by christian ministers and conservative pundits against those whose beliefs differ will in only take a matter of time before it result in death.

    BTW, Muslim and Islam are the same. You may have known that an just made a mistake, or you may not have known that.

  5. G A PHILLIPS says:

    The true believers of Islam only do what there faith tells them to, Just as Ken tries to do only what his socialist liberal faith tells him to, the bad thing is both of their faiths are wrong and quite evil.