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02/09/2022 West Africa (International Christian Concern) – West Africa continues to suffer from Islamic militants responsible for acts of terrorism and violent persecution of Christians in the region. Countries in the region that face imminent threats include Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Niger, and Togo to name a few.

In 2017, the organization known as the Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) was formed in West Africa, with the terrorist groups AQIM, the Macina Liberation Front, Al-Mourabitoune, and Ansar Dine. Islamic State in the Greater Sahara likewise operates in the region.

Since 2015, over 3,500 individuals from Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger have lost their lives in Africa due to the insurgency of Islamic militants, with 1,300 of them killed in 2021 alone. The scarcity of suitable land has caused frustration to arise between groups and has reignited conflict in other areas, such as religion.

Islamic militants have used this tension to recruit new members while also capitalizing on weak government intervention in West Africa. In May 2021, a coup took place in Mali, likely due to the perceived lack of governmental response to insurgents. A similar coup occurred in 2022 in Burkina Faso. Mixed reactions exist among citizens of both countries, with some viewing the takeovers as liberation while others express concern about harsh treatment.

The Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram has killed tens of thousands of Christians in Nigeria and displaced millions in an attempt to discard western influence and impose strict Islamic Sharia law. They target those who do not share their radical interpretation of Islam, often attacking villages and forcefully converting Christians, other religious minorities, and the many Muslims who they feel do not appropriately adhere to the teachings of Muhammed. While the Nigerian military repeatedly insists that the group has been defeated, attacks are ongoing.

The high degree of insurgent activity in West Africa continues to produce instability in the region. Political upheaval, weak government control, and economic crises provide opportunities for terrorist groups to gain both territory and members. These militant groups hold extremist Islamic beliefs that include the obligation to kill those professing faith in Christianity, drastically increasing the persecution of West African Christians.

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