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Burkina Faso Facts

Score:66/ 100
Region:Africa
Persecution Type:Religious nationalism
Persecution Level:Very High
Population:20,322,000
Christians:5,157,000
Main Religion:Islam
Government:Presidential republic
Leader:President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré

Profile of Persecution

Violence 93%
Church Life 71%
National Life 57%
Community Life 61%
Family Life 58%
Private Life 56%

Ongoing jihadist attacks on Christianity

Over the last year, Burkina Faso’s northeastern region has seen a brutal onslaught of deadly attacks on Christian churches and villages—including several during and after worship services on church grounds in which worshipers were told to convert to Islam or die. An influx of violent Islamic extremist groups into West Africa’s Sahel region has led to these attacks that killed at least 40 Christians in 2019. These groups are campaigning for attacks on believers, with some who want to create an Islamic state opposing the very existence of Christianity.

How Christians are suffering

The outburst of killings during the 12-month reporting period has created an environment of fear. Many Christians are too scared to attend church services or send their children to school. Some churches have stepped up security.

Christians of Muslim background are the most persecuted Christian group in the country. Family and community members reject them and attempt to force them to renounce their Christian faith. Believers are afraid to express their faith in public because of such threats.

Examples

In April 2019, gunmen shot a Protestant pastor and five other Christians in a church in northern Burkina. The attackers executed believers leaving the worship service when they refused to renounce Jesus.

On May 12, 2019, a Catholic priest and five other Christians were killed in an attack in the central town of Dablo. Gunmen first stormed the church during the Sunday service and then set fire to the church and surrounding buildings.

In June 2019, militants stormed a village in northern Burkina Faso and ordered people outside to lie down. Then the armed group checked everyone’s necks, looking at the chains worn. They found four men wearing chains with crosses, indicating their Christianity, and executed them.

In September 2019, gunmen shot and killed a Christian man and four of his sons in the villages of Pissele and Boulkiba.

Population and number of Christian statistics: Johnson T M and Zurlo G A, eds., World Christian Database (Leiden/Boston: Brill, accessed April 2019).

Pray for Burkina Faso

  • Pastors are pleading for support from Christians worldwide to deal with the physical and emotional ramifications of growing jihadist violence and from the international community to prevent a disastrous undoing of the religious cohesion that Burkina Faso has been known for in previous years.
  • Pray for the Lord’s comfort and grace to all who have lost loved ones in the attacks and that He would be close to the broken-hearted.
  • Pray that Christians would have the courage and faith to remain firm in Jesus as they face increased hostility.
  • Pray for all international forces helping in the fight against extremists in the larger region. Pray that they would be able to help bring stability and prevent the spread of violence to Burkina Faso’s neighboring countries.

Stories from Burkina Faso

January 22, 2020

Facial recognition technology ushers in new wave of Christian persecution

A new wave of Christian persecution led by facial recognition technology is one of four major trends impacting believers today. Read More

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January 15, 2020

Every day, 8 Christians killed for their decision to follow Jesus

In-depth research for Open Doors' 2020 World Watch List shows that at least eight Christians, largely in Sub-Saharan Africa, die at the hands of persecutors (extremists, family members and state authorities) each day. Read More

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December 2, 2019

Another attack in Burkina Faso kills 14 Christians: ‘The attacks have shattered the lives of our people’

Christians in northeastern Burkina Faso are reeling after a new attack on a church left 14 dead. Read More

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