Thousands of protesters in Senegal burned French flags and pictures of President Emmanuel Macron over his defence of the right to satirise religion and depict the prophet Mohammed in cartoons.

Demonstrators in the capital Dakar on Saturday also called for a boycott of French goods, as anger mounts despite the French leader’s attempts to calm the situation.

Senegal, with a population of around 95 percent Muslims is one of many countries to protest.

“Macron wounded the whole Muslim world. If the world is at peace it’s thanks to the Muslim religion. I myself hate Macron,” said demonstrator Youssoupha Sow.

The French President strongly defended secular values last month after the French schoolteacher Samuel Paty was murdered after he showed his class drawings of the Prophet Muhammad during a class on free speech.

Macron promised France would not “renounce the caricatures”, following the killing.

The French leader’s words were taken by some as an attack on their faith, and he has since tried to calm the tensions by saying he understands Muslims’ reaction to the drawings.

Saturday’s protest “isn’t to say that we’re against France or whoever else,” said marcher Awa Thiam.

“We just want our fellow citizens, Muslims like us, to be able to practise their faith in peace.

“People shouldn’t make others afraid, make them believe that (Islam) is a religion of terror, of evil… actually you can’t get more peaceful than Islam.”

The French president has tried to calm tensions by saying he understands’ the reaction of Muslims in an interview with Al Jazeera.

But he said he could never accept the issue being used to justify violence.

“I understand and respect that we can be shocked by these caricatures,” Macron said.

“I will never accept that we can justify physical violence for these caricatures and I will always defend in my country the freedom to say, to write, to think, to draw.”