Members of the proscribed Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), also known as Shiites on Tuesday, November 3, 2020, staged a protest in Abuja against French President, Emmanuel Macron, over an offensive republishing of caricatures of Prophet Muhammad by a citizen of the European country.
A French middle-school teacher, Samuel Paty was gruesomely murdered after illustrating with the cartoon of Prophet Muhammad on 16 October 2020 in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, a suburb of Paris.
President Emmanuel Macron in his reaction to the unfortunate incident defended the freedom of expression saying, “We will not give up caricatures and drawings, even if others back away,” while calling for an end to hatred and violence and for respect for others.
President Macron hailed Mr Paty as “a quiet hero” and “the face of the Republic” at an event in Paris.
He then presented the teacher’s family with the nation’s highest honour, the Légion d’honneur.
Macron’s comment about Islam being “in crisis” and his defence of the offensive caricature, which Muslims find offensive, has prompted a global backlash, with Muslims across the world holding protests and calling for a boycott of French products.
The Shiite members in large numbers marched from Nitel Junction to Wuse Market while chanting anti-France songs.
The protesters also set ablaze the French national flag to signify their anger against the country, a development which led to pandemonium in the market as traders hurriedly locked up their shops for fear of possible attacks by the sect members.
The Secretary of the Academic Forum of the movement, Abdullahi Musa said the rally was meant to condemn the action of the France President on the derogatory publication.
A statement by Sheikh Sidi Munir, a follower of the sect’s leader, Sheik Ibraheem Zakzaky, reads: “We set the French flag on fire in reaction to the attack on Islam and Muslims by French President Emmanuel Macron since the heinous crime of publishing cartoons of the Prophet by the magazine, Charlie Hebdo.
“Hence, we applaud the current campaign across Muslim countries and all lovers of peace and humanity.”
The protest caused gridlock as motorists were forced to use alternative routes.
They chanted “Allahu Akbar (God is great)”; “Free Sheikh Zakzaky” and carried placards with different inscriptions.
The 30-minute protest was terminated at Wuse Market.