February 20, 2006 - 13:40 AMTPanARMENIAN.Net
- Rioting over the controversial cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad claimed another 16 lives last night in Nigeria as churches were burned by protesting Muslims. The violence erupted as the Danish cartoonist whose drawings originally sparked the furore, Kurt Westergaard, used an interview with a British newspaper to defend the right to a free press - and said the Islamic faith provided 'spiritual ammunition' for terrorism. More than two weeks after the controversy began, after-effects are still being felt around the world. The first protests in Nigeria flared in the provinces of Borno and Katsina: witnesses said Christians were poured with petrol and burnt, hotels and shops were torched by protesters who ran wild after police fired teargas to disperse them. The Nigerian riots were the first protests in Africa's most populous country, which is divided equally between Christians and Muslims. The worst of the trouble, involving 15 deaths, was in the north eastern state of Borno - a predominantly Muslim state with a sizeable Christian population, which has recently seen an increase in militancy. Troops were deployed in the state capital to restore order, reported the Guardian.
An Indian official promised $11.5 million for the head of the Danish cartoonist. The murderer of the author of the cartoon will also be awarded as much gold as he weighs. Earlier Taliban promised 100 kg of gold (about $2 million) for the murder of the caricaturist, reported AFP.