Senegal’s government has reportedly banned the distribution of Wednesday’s edition of the French satirical weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo and the daily Liberation.

Both publications carried a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed on their Wednesday front pages.

The Senegalese news agency, citing a statement from the interior ministry, said, “it is forbidden to distribute and disseminate, by any means, today’s editions of the French magazine Charlie Hebdo and the French newspaper Liberation throughout the national territory”.

President Macky Sall marched in last Sunday’s unity rally in Paris to condemn terrorism.

But Senegalese political analyst Abdou Lo, general manager of Primum Africa Consulting, said banning the distribution of the magazine is a political cover for President Sall. Senegalese Muslims, who make up 95 percent of the population, had been angry with him for participating in last Sunday’s unity march in Paris.

“I think it’s more political positioning for President Sall because as you might know, President Sall went to Paris to rally with French President Francois Hollande and many head of states and it was not very well received in Senegal,” he said.

Lo said Senegalese could not understand why an African president like Sall did not organize a rally for Nigeria against Boko Haram or organize anything for northern Mali.

“[The second] reason is for a country such as Senegal where you have 95 percent of Muslims and 4 percent of Christians, which is 99 percent of believers, people cannot understand Macky Sall going to back a magazine that is mocking religion,” Lo said.

He said Senegalese believe in freedom of speech and press and do not support the killings of the Charlie Hebdo journalists. However, Lo said, Senegalese Muslims do not look favorably on anyone who makes a mockery of their Prophet Muhammad or any religion.

“They are against the killings of the cartoonists because the Islam we have in this country is very tolerant, very open because we live peacefully with Christians and animists. But people cannot understand a news magazine mocking the Prophet and Macky Sall going to back that magazine and saying ‘I am Charlie,’” Lo said.

Lo said there was no reason for the president to ban the distribution because many Senegalese would not have bought the magazine. But by doing so, the president is trying to win the support of religious leaders who might have been angry with the president for marching in Paris.

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