Persecuted Christians: Open Doors analyst discusses threat to Christians in West Africa

As Doors Open released its 2022 Global Christian Persecution Index yesterday, Illia Djadi, the organization's senior analyst on freedom of religion and belief in sub-Saharan Africa, spoke to Christian Today about the threats on Christians in West Africa. 

Among the points of attention highlighted by Portes Ouvertes in its Global Index of Persecution of Christians 2022, published yesterday, the organization evokes the rise of jihadism in sub-Saharan Africa which is “spreading at an alarming rate” and impacting Christian communities.

Dance an interview for the English Christian news site, Christian Today, Illia Djadi, senior analyst for Open Doors on freedom of religion and belief in sub-Saharan Africa, spoke about the situation of Christians in West Africa and the threats to them.

Illia Djadi asserts that “West Africa has become the new epicenter of international jihadism – particularly around Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso”.

According to him, "because the extremists want to establish a caliphate and an Islamic republic", Christians are their main target. “Christians are targeted because they are not Muslims – although jihadists also target moderate Muslims,” he continues.

The analyst particularly sheds light on the situation in Burkina Faso where “a dramatic humanitarian crisis is currently unfolding with around 1,5 million people displaced inside the country”. He adds that the north of the country “has been emptied of its Christian population”.

“Some were killed, others were forced to flee. Churches and schools have all been closed.”

Faced with this alarming situation, he believes that the international community does not pay enough attention “to the complexity and scale of the violence” in West Africa. He fears that because of "what is happening in Afghanistan", this region "will be forgotten".

"The international community must help maintain good governance in these countries and a global response is needed because the military response has failed", insists the analyst who believes that a "military response is not enough".

He adds that the “international community should also support faith-based organizations and churches” which “have provided much of the social care and assistance to people in need” and are now “overwhelmed” and becoming “ victims ".

Finally, Illia Djadi says he is "grateful for the attention of the churches", which he encourages to continue to pray "for the Christians of West Africa and the Sahel region".

" Do not forget us. The Christians here are suffering. »

Camille Westphal Perrier

Image credit: Creative Commons / Wikimedia

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