Niger archbishop vows to rebuild churches following riots

(Reuters UK)

Following the destruction of local churches in protest riots, Archbishop Michel Cartateguy of Niamey, Niger has told reporters that the church will rebuild itself.

"We're still trying to understand the savagery which erupted here — but it's certain it was well thought-out, prepared and organized," he said, in an article in the Catholic Herald.

Reports indicate that more than 10 people were killed amidst the violence, and that over 200 more were injured in some form. More than 45 Christian churches were burned during the riots.

The archbishop has also reported that his diocese was still sheltering many Christians as future threats are potentially still looming on the horizon instilling fear in the local Christian community.

Despite the violence that has plagued the region, the Archbishop still noted the good will shared by local Muslims that protected Christians during the riots and by imams who condemned the violence.

"We know some local Muslims, young included, showed courage and solidarity by sheltering Christians in their family homes. Some also stood in our church doorways saying the rioters would have to kill them as well," he said.

"We now have to reconstruct hearts and minds deeply scarred by these events and renew the friendly ties we always had with the Muslim community," he added.

Some churches that are still standing following the riots have begun to celebrate their first Masses since the riots. Other Catholic offices and schools were projected to reopen in late January.

The Niger government for their part have announced a comprehensive program aimed at rebuilding the fallen churches.

President Mahamadou had previously declared a three day mourning period for the victims of the rioting. Like the archbishop, he praised the Muslims who helped protect Christians during the riots.

He condemned the rioters stating that they did not understand Islam.

Copyright © 2015 Ecumenical News