A large group of students has rioted at a university in the West African nation of Senegal, burning several buildings and trashing a cafeteria and bank building as they hunted for a student they had accused of being a homosexual.
According to France 24’s The Observers, the events were sparked after a group of students at Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar accused a young man of sexually propositioning another student in a shower room on campus.
They then interrogated him while they videoed him, yelling ‘you homosexual’ at him and telling him to show his face to the camera.
One of the students yelled, ‘Am I dreaming or what? This bastard is crying!’ before their victim managed to make his escape.
The video began spreading among students at the university who began to gather and form a large mob to hunt for the student who had been labelled as gay.
He managed to hide inside the offices of the university’s head of security.
According to a security guard at the university, ‘We saw a hoard of young people gathering on a part of campus where there’s a bank and a restaurant.’
‘They were screaming “We are going to kill him!” … The mob wanted him to come out and there was a heated exchange between them and the security personnel.’
Staff at the bank were evacuated and police soon arrived on campus.
‘The police fired teargas to disperse the students so the young man could come out,’ according to the security guard’s account.
‘The angry students went on to burn down the buildings belonging to the campus security guards. They also destroyed the ATM outside the bank as well as the bank’s signs. They openly criticized security guards for “helping a homosexual” man flee.’
‘Unfortunately, we are quite accustomed to mobs breaking out on campus. But in the ten years I’ve worked here, this is the first time that I’ve seen students actually go after the bank and the security guards.’
As a result of the violence eight students were taken to the university’s infirmary with two of those seriously injured.
Following the violence the university’s student services administration released a statement condemning the incident.
‘Armed with iron bars and clubs, students ransacked furniture and material and knocked over plates filled with food at Sinkou restaurant,’ the statement said, ‘They also stole mobile phones and molested restaurant staff.’
‘We are still wondering what link there is between the question of ‘homosexuality’ and destroying property.’
According to local LGBTI advocacy group Prudence this is the ninth time since 2012 that such a homophobic attack has occurred at the university and the group has stopped holding events there out of fear of violence.
Homosexual persons can be jailed for up to five years in Senegal. A Pew Global Attitudes Project poll found only 3 percent of Senegalese thought that homosexuality was acceptable.
You can watch a video of some of the violence below