WaPo: Islamist Militants ‘Targeting Christians’ in Burkina Faso
The Washington Post reported Thursday that Islamic militants have been singling out Christians for execution in a remarkably honest exposé of the situation.
Post writer Danielle Paquette noted that jihadist death squads have been checking people’s necks for Christian symbols, killing anyone wearing a cross, crucifix, or some other Christian image.
As Breitbart News reported last month, Burkina Faso Bishop Laurent Birfuoré Dabiré has publicly condemned the ongoing, targeted slaughter of Christians by Islamic radicals, warning it could lead to the elimination of a Christian presence in Burkina Faso.
“If this continues without anyone intervening, the result will be the elimination of the Christian presence in this area and — perhaps in the future —in the entire country,” Bishop Dabiré told Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), a Catholic organization providing assistance to persecuted Christians around the world
Since January 2019, there have been five major jihadist attacks on Christians in the country, ACN reported in July, the last of which happened in late June.
“It happened in the neighboring Diocese of Ouahigouya,” the bishop said. “The Islamists arrived and forced everyone to lie on the floor. Then they were registered, and four of them who were carrying crucifixes were killed for being Christians.”
After the massacre, the jihadists told the other villagers that if they did not convert to Islam, they would also be killed.
These targeted killings “followed attacks on churches in the West African nation that have left at least two dozen people dead since February,” Ms. Paquette stated in her Wednesday piece.
“A spreading Islamist insurgency has transformed Burkina Faso from a peaceful country known for farming, a celebrated film festival and religious tolerance into a hotbed of extremism,” she said.
She also noted that attacks by militants with ties to the Islamic State and al-Qaeda “have quadrupled since 2017 in Burkina Faso,” and the environment of terror has driven some 70,000 people from their homes since January.
Paquette said that the attacks specifically aimed at Christians “signal a shift in the militants’ strategy from indiscriminate gunfire to attempts at dividing communities,” citing Chrysogone Zougmore, president of the Burkinabe Movement for Human and Peoples’ Rights.
“They are planting seeds of a religious conflict,” Zougmore said. “They want to create hate. They want to create differences between us.”
Last February, a team of jihadists opened fire on a customs post in southern Burkina Faso, slaying a missionary priest as well as four customs officials.
Father Antonio César Fernandez Fernandez, a Spanish priest of the Salesian order, had been working as a missionary in Africa for the last 37 years and helped found the first Salesian community in Togo in 1982.
The 72-year-old priest was riding in a car with other Salesians when the attack occurred, some 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the southern border of Burkina Faso. He was killed by three gunshot wounds but his companions escaped unharmed.
The three men were returning from Lome, Togo, where they had participated in the first session of the provincial chapter of the Salesians of Francophone West Africa.