Transitional President President Assimi Goïta
Ten years ago in northern Mali, churches were burned and Christians were forced to flee for their lives when Islamic extremist groups took control of the region. Though some Christians have trickled back in with police protection, there are areas where there are no Christians. The trauma lingers, and the threat of attack still hangs over Christians, making evangelistic activities especially risky. Such programs can draw the attention of jihadists, and Christian missionaries live under the constant fear of abduction. Anyone who converts from Islam risks personal violence and pressure from their relatives if their faith is discovered. Northern Mali is also unsafe for non-governmental organizations.
“More than once, my family sent jihadists to my house to kill [or at least intimidate] us. Their plans never worked. But one day, while my husband was on a business trip, he was gunned down. He was killed for his faith and for marrying an ex-Muslim. His colleagues delivered the terrible news to me. [Even now], I have no idea what happened to his body.”
The situation in Mali has become complex, and it’s difficult to distinguish clearly between religious-based and ethnic-based violence. Pressure and violence are both significant threats for believers. Though violence slightly decreased since last year’s list, pressure from the community and against the church have both risen.
Christians in the northern regions of Mali—where jihadists and extremist Muslim Fulani herdsmen are active—experience the most difficulties for their faith. To some extent, there are small pockets of intense persecution in the southern part of the country as well. Converts from Islam are particularly targeted.
Open Doors works through local partners to provide persecution-preparedness training, Bibles, literacy training and leadership training for both pastors and believers in various aspects of Christian life and ministry. In times of need, we also assist vulnerable Christians with socio-economic aid.