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Burkina Faso: For Christians, “A Fight for Survival”

For previous ChristianPersecution.com coverage of the persecution of Christians in Burkina Faso, see here. As the persecution of Christians escalates in Burkina Faso, the central government is either too weak, too indifferent, or both to do anything serious to stop it. If this situation continues, Christianity will be eradicated from Central Africa. The persecution of Christians in Africa cries out urgently for international intervention. Please continue to pray for the Christians of Burkina Faso, that their hearts would be steadfast, and for those who persecute them, that their hearts would be transformed.

“Christians in Burkina Faso: ‘A Fight for Survival,'” by Uzay Bulut, Gatestone Institute, October 13, 2019:

The extremist attacks on Christians in the Muslim-majority West African country of Burkina Faso are not only a cause of great concern, but indicate that terrorist groups in the Middle East, such as ISIS, have not been defeated; they have moved their operations elsewhere.

Terrorism — committed by armed groups such as Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Al-Mourabitoun, Ansar al-Dine, Ansar-ul-Islam lil-Ichad wal Jihad, Boko Haram, Islamic State in Greater Sahara and the Macina Liberation Front — has resulted in the displacement of more than 135,000 people in Burkina Faso, two-thirds of them since the beginning of this year. Their violence also has led to the closure of many schools.

According to a September 18 report by the international Catholic organization, Aid to the Church in Need:

“The most recent villages to have been abandoned are those of Hitté and Rounga, where the inhabitants were given an ultimatum by the Islamist terrorists, who ordered them to convert to Islam or abandon their homes. A source, who requested anonymity, said: ‘They are by no means the only ones facing this situation, rather they are just part of a program by the jihadists who are deliberately sowing terror, assassinating members of the Christian communities and forcing the remaining Christians to flee after warning them that they will return in three days’ time — and that they do not wish to find any Christians or catechumens still there.'”

The rise in terrorist attacks in Burkina Faso followed the 2014 fall of its long-ruling dictator, Blaise Compaoré. Four years later, in December 2018, a state of emergency was declared in the country’s northern provinces. So far, however, Burkina Faso’s security forces have been unable to prevent attacks on Christians, who have been living in constant fear and danger.

A recent report by the human-rights group, Open Doors, claims that the situation has grown so dire that Christians in Burkina Faso are in “a fight for survival.” According to the report:

“One resident in the eastern region testified of increasing Sharia law: ‘At 6 p.m., everyone has to go to the mosque, then straight home. In the middle of the night, you must go and listen to sermons. You’re forbidden to criticize them. Women have to cover their heads. There’s no talk of cigarettes, alcohol or music, no celebrations … If you smoke, at first they just tell you not to. The third time, they kill you. They’ve forbidden prostitution in the [gold] mines — they slit their throats. They kill someone about once a month, I’d say, and it’s always people they’ve warned. Except the prostitutes. They don’t warn them. They just kill them.’

“During the Open Doors team visit, teachers told us: ‘The Jihadists are replacing state schools with Arabic schools. We received severe warning to leave. The government succeeded in relocating some pupils and teachers to safer areas.’

“The impact has been great on the church specifically. Open Doors has been told that an unknown number of pastors and their families have been kidnapped and remain in captivity. The increased insecurity has caused great fear among the Christian population.

“More than 200 churches have been closed in northern parts of the country to avoid further attacks. Holding Sunday worship services has been discouraged in most rural areas.

“‘The jihadists started threatening the church, sending warnings to stop worship services in the communities of Arbinda, Dablo, Djibo, Kongoussi and others,’ our team reported. ‘At first, they were against the mode of worship in the churches where women and men gathered in the same church. Then, in no time, the believers were warned not to hold any Christian worship services.’

“More than 5,000 pastors and church members have been forced into Internally Displaced People (IDP) camps or are taking refuge with family and friends in the south, central regions or in the capital city of Ouagadougou.

“People fled with little more than the clothes on their backs, our team reports. Most church schools in the north have been closed. Many Christian children are out of school and cannot afford school fees in their new areas.

“Throughout the country, churches are arranging food collection to support the affected believers but are unable to keep up with the need.”…

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