Burkina Faso bishop: as Christians are targeted by Islamist terror, ‘West remains indifferent’

“THERE IS AN ONGOING persecution of Christians. For months we bishops have been denouncing what is happening in Burkina Faso, but nobody is listening to us. Evidently they are more concerned with protecting their own interests.” This was the reaction of Bishop Justin Kientega of Ouahigouya, following yet another attack deliberately targeting Christians: On Dec. 1, terrorists attacked a Protestant church in the governorate of Fada N’Gourma, close to the border with Niger, in the east of the country; 14 Christians were killed.

“No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, just as no one claimed responsibility for the previous ones,” the bishop told Aid to the Church in Need (CAN). “So we don’t know whether it is one group or several groups that are involved. What is certain, however, is that they are waging an Islamist campaign and trying to provoke a conflict between the religions in a country where Christians and Muslims have always lived peaceably side by side.”

Bishop Kientega believes that the Islamists are attempting to sow terror in the Christian community, not least in order to be able to seize their land and property. Following the violence, very many Christians have abandoned their homes and fled; the Church is caring for thousands of Internally Displaced People.

Since the beginning of this year more than 60 Christians have been murdered in Burkina Faso, in the face of a seeming total lack of interest in the West. This indifference was a topic at a recent meeting of the Bishops’ Conferences of Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali, Ivory Coast and Ghana, held in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso. “We wondered how it could be possible that so many people know nothing of our situation and how Western governments and Western media are simply not making any mention of it.” He charged that many of the Western powers have an interest in seeing the violence continue, and their profits are more important than our lives,” said the bishop.

Christians in the country are dealing with what the bishop called an “unprecedented level of insecurity,” which is greatly limiting the freedom of movement of the Church, whose priests can no longer travel to outlying villages to minister to the Christian faithful.

Bishop Kientega made a fresh appeal, via ACN, to the international community: “The world should look and see what is happening in Burkina Faso and the Western powers should stop those who are committing these crimes, instead of selling them the weapons that they are using to kill Christians. We are being persecuted; but we retain our trust in the Lord and hope that all this may soon come to an end. Thank you to all of you for your prayers.”

—Marta Petrosillo