The rampage was triggered in January when radical Muslims angered by caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)in French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo killed 12 people in an assault on the magazine’s Paris offices.
In Niger, hundreds of Muslims took to the streets, clashing with police and razing 45 churches, five hotels, as well as bars and schools run by Christians. The French cultural centre in the second city, Zinder, was also set alight.
Muslims make up about 98 percent of the 17 million population in the deeply poor, landlocked nation south of the Sahara. Until the riots, they lived in peace with the small Christian minority.
However, the threat of armed militant activity is present both in the north, where Niger is prey to al Qaeda-linked groups in the desert, and the south, which has been attacked by Boko Haram fundamentalists from neighbouring Nigeria.
Leaders of both faiths have been striving to restore strong community bonds by means of an inter-religious dialogue backed by a plan to “renew the value of living together” (REVE) funded by the European Union.