As a result of the vicious Charlie Hebdo terror attack in Paris, France, Niger, a normally peaceful nation, erupted in violent protest in late January that led to 84 churches being burned down, and at least 10 people being killed.
During a demonstration in Niger’s second city, Zinder, protesters raided shops run by Christians and attacked the French cultural center. They also threw stones at police and burned tires outside Niamey’s grand mosque a day after at least four were killed in Zinder.
The most dramatic is the emotional stress caused by the death threats. Pastor Djergou Barage, our partner in Niger, testifies that his house has been marked to be burned down. Threats repeatedly sent by SMS said: ‘We are going to slit your throats. You and your family are going to die. We are going to burn your house’. The threats were real and not just for intimidation.
This turmoil has led to a revival first in Christian community. Those who have stopped going to church by laziness woke up and started attending church again. Their faith has been refreshed somehow.
Christian leaders have publicly offered their forgiveness to the authors of the terrorist acts. This forgiveness has profoundly marked the Muslims. They have hard time to believe it
Nigeriens [citizens of Niger] in their majority were not aware of Christian Nigeriens. They thought that Christians in Niger are foreigners from neighbor countries and missionaries from Europe or the USA, not nationals. Now, they found out that their own countrymen are Christians. This may appear an insignificant detail but it is important in a country that boast having 99.90% of Muslims. Christians are now solicited to pray in meetings when difficult subjects are raised and discussed.”
He stated that there was so surprising news that included, “In many cases, it’s the Muslims neighbors who took the defense of Christians, preventing their own to set fire on the houses. That’s the case with our collaborator, Pastor Djergou
169 people are arrested and are still in detention, waiting for the results of the investigations. This is an amazing testimony that has come out months after the attack. Interfaith harmony can be seen in the area. What the Muslims intended for evil God is using for good. Curious Muslims are now visiting churches and purchasing Bibles to read