Assaults by Islamic State and al Qaeda militants in Burkina Faso have quadrupled since 2017. Over 70,000 folks have fled their houses this 12 months.
Just lately, gunmen in northern Burkina Faso surrounded a bunch of individuals outdoors, discovered 4 Christians carrying crosses, and executed them.
Greg Musselman with The Voice of the Martyrs Canada says this sudden rise of extremism within the West African nation, whereas not unprecedented, is somewhat shocking.
“It isn’t been on our radar when it comes to the Voice of the Martyrs and ministries that work with persecuted Christians. So there was some shock I assume in some ways in which this usually peaceable nation the place Christians, Muslims, spiritual folks, and people who possibly do not imagine all get alongside fairly properly.
“It’s just been the quick acceleration, especially now directly attacking Christians, looking for religious symbols as they go into the communities and attacking churches and really trying to bring division between the Muslims and Christians and it’s kind of that ‘divide and conquer’ mentality.”
The roots of extremism in Burkina Faso may be traced again, partly, to the autumn of Libya in 2011. Militants began to trickle into neighboring nations like Mali and finally Burkina Faso, bringing their weapons and violence with them.
Whereas the remainder of the world was targeted on a surging extremist motion in East and Central Africa, the seeds of militant Islam in West Africa have been being quietly sown.
“I think we weren’t watching and then all of a sudden, we see…in a year that the violence against Christians has quadrupled. Then as they’re starting to investigate, they’re finding it’s a lot of homegrown terrorists who have received training in places like Afghanistan,” Musselman says.
To date, the vast majority of Burkinabe folks killed by extremists have been Muslim.
“It’s not that they were so much targeting Christians at the beginning,” Musselman explains. “They’re targeting anybody that gets in their way. But as they move into these places, they start to identify the Christians, where the churches are, people wearing any kind of jewelry like a cross where they can identify them as Christian, then they directly attack them.”
For believers who wish to assist, Musselman says you possibly can advocate by asking your authorities representatives what’s being executed to guard persecuted Christians in Burkina Faso.
“Church leaders are coming out and saying, ‘We need help and if something doesn’t happen, Christians will be driven out or at least going into hiding and the Church will have less of an impact in that part of West Africa.’”
Musselman says VOM Canada will probably strengthen connections with Church leaders in Burkina Faso in mild of the persecution spike.
“Often it’s in these difficult situations where people tend to be more open to Jesus. But…Christians that have lived in peaceful environments and then this happens, they don’t really have a grit to [endure] that kind of persecution.”
He emphasizes, “We need to be praying that they will have wisdom…and that this divide that the Islamists are trying to put between peaceful, moderate Muslims and Christians would not fester.”
Header photograph courtesy of Prayercast.