Hundreds in anti-Macron protest in Somalia
Demonstrators in Somalia on Wednesday burned the French flag and called for a severing of diplomatic ties in protest over President Emmanuel Macron's defense of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed.
Several hundred demonstrators blocked traffic in street protests in the capital Mogadishu, chanting slogans and burning effigies of Macron whose defence of the right to mock religion has ignited anger in much of the Muslim world.
"I don’t normally participate in demonstrations but today I would be ashamed if I did not show my sentiments against this infidel Macron, who supported this insult against our Prophet Mohamed, peace be upon him," said one protester, Hilal Abudrahman.
Another, Ahmed Sheik Mire, said Macron had provoked Muslims everywhere and called for the devout "to show their anger with France".
"We will continue demonstrating, and we call on the Somali government to suspend its relationship with France as long as Macron is president," he said.
Mogadishu police officer Abdirahman Mohamed said the largest demonstration in the capital, in Holwada district, had "hundreds" of attendees.
Similar demonstrations against France were held in other Somali cities, including Adado in the country's centre and Wanlamweyn west of Mogadishu, with the tricolore burned. Police said a protest was held in Somaliland, the self-proclaimed republic that seceded from Somalia in 1991, the day prior.
Muslims across the world have reacted furiously to Macron's remarks that came after the beheading of schoolteacher Samuel Paty, who had shown his pupils cartoons of the prophet, depictions that are seen as offensive by many Muslims.
France has been targeted in a string of jihadist attacks that have killed over 250 people since 2015.
The October 16 murder by a Chechen extremist shocked the country deeply.
In the aftermath, Macron issued a passionate defence of free speech and France's secular way of life, vowing that the country "will not give up cartoons".
Major anti-France protests have been held in Muslim-majority nations across the world including Bangladesh, Syria and Libya, while French goods have been pulled from supermarket shelves in Qatar, Kuwait and other Gulf states.
Leaders from European nations including Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Greece have rallied behind Macron as the backlash has widened.