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Burkina Faso: Salafi-Jihadi Militants Target Christians

About 30% of the population of Burkina Faso is Christian, with two-thirds of these being Roman Catholic. Like Christians in other African countries, the Christians of Burkina Faso are increasingly threatened: a previous report noted that “as many as 82 pastors, 1,145 Christians and 151 households have fled from violence in different locations in the Muslim-majority nation.” Yet the persecution of Christians in Burkina Faso and elsewhere continues to be largely ignored by the international media and human rights operations. Please continue to pray for the victims, for a new determination among international authorities to take definitive action to end this persecution, and for the persecutors to soften their hearts and turn to Orthodox Christianity.

“Salafi-Jihadi Militants Target Christians in Burkina Faso,” by Emily Estelle and Isabelle Nazha, Critical Threats, August 5, 2019:

Salafi-jihadi militants with ties to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and the Islamic State are attacking Christians in Burkina Faso as part of a larger effort to destabilize the country and take control of Muslim communities.

Salafi-jihadi groups began an insurgency in northern Burkina Faso in 2016 and have used both coercion and persuasion to gain support from vulnerable populations—particularly the marginalized Fulani ethnic group—in the country’s north and east.[1] Attacks targeting Christians began in the spring of 2019. They have occurred largely in the country’s north and may now be spreading to the east.[2] These attacks are isolating Muslim populations by pressuring Christians to move from their villages to district centers,[3] punishing Muslims that aid Christians,[4] and threatening communities to dissuade support for security forces.[5] No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, which have occurred in areas where multiple Salafi-jihadi groups operate.[6] Militants linked to Ansar al Islam or the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara are likely responsible. Jama’a Nusrat al Islam wa al Muslimeen, AQIM’s affiliate in the Sahel, also operates in this area but is less likely to attack churches because al Qaeda’s senior leadership discourages attacks on places of worship.[7]

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