Pressure rising in Burkina Faso, USCIRF warns

By October 14, 2020

Burkina Faso (MNN) — A new report from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom warns of increasing persecution in Burkina Faso. A factsheet released Friday calls for continued support from the U.S. government to protect religious liberty.

“[The] U.S. government has put a great emphasis on religious freedom,” Voice of the Martyrs Canada spokesman Greg Musselman says.

“I appreciate what I’m seeing: [a report] that is drawing attention to a country like Burkina Faso – which has been somewhat ignored, even as the violence has continued to rise.”

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Muslim extremists crept into Burkina Faso from neighboring Mali and Niger in recent years. As described here, President Kabore’s administration has struggled to contain the growing threat:

Despite a genuine desire by the Burkinabe government to protect its citizens’ rights to freedom of religion and belief, the federal government is overwhelmed by security crises. Recent tensions between competing jihadist groups in the region could further exacerbate these trends, as could further human rights abuses and lack of accountability for government-supported security forces.

Radicals don’t try to hide their intent. “It is very blatant – the killing and the kidnapping. They’re using violence against [people] who don’t go along with their version of extreme jihadism,” Musselman says.

“Since 2016, there has been a 1,000-percent increase in violent events, and a lot of those have been against Christians and Muslims.”

While important, religious intolerance is not the only concern. Nearly three million people need humanitarian assistance, according to UN figures last updated in June.

A family displaced by violence within Burkina Faso finds shelter with relatives in Dori, May 2019. © UNHCR/Romain Desclous

“There is an incredible rise [of] people now being displaced, and that just puts pressure on the worldwide community in the middle of a pandemic,” Musselman notes.

Find your place in the story

Get in touch with VOM Canada to learn how you can come alongside persecuted Christians in Burkina Faso. “We will be making contact [with field staff] in the days ahead to find out how we can strengthen our brothers and sisters in Christ,” Musselman says.

“We need to look at what’s happening and how we can aid our brothers and sisters in Christ that are under intense persecution and suffering.”

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“By talking about this, Christians become aware of what’s taking place. That’s the first step. Then, the next part is how do we help? How do we interact with our brothers and sisters there?” Musselman says.

“Our concern first and foremost, as followers of Jesus, is [for] our brothers and sisters in Christ.”