Christians in northern Mali face a barrage of threats from radical Islamists forcing them with little choice, but to leave their homes for safer pastures.
For many, displacement represents a new normal, some having been dislodged from their homes for as many as five years, while still lacking stability in the new homes which they have established in Bamako, Mali’s capital.
“The recent terrorism threat against Christians in northern Mali made us to flee and take refuge in Bamako as my head was also put on price by these extremists,” Moctar* told International Christian Concern (ICC).
“We lost our property and our houses have been inhabited by these extremists and our church was destroyed. I have tried to stay, but escaped three times from these Islamists’ plan to kidnap me and behead me,” he added.
Christians in northern Mali like Moctar face persecution from all sides. If life wasn’t hard enough as a religious minority that represents less than ten percent of the total Muslim-majority population, enter an upsurge of radical Islamic terrorism for the past half-decade.
A Rise in Extremist Takeover
In April 2012, ethnically Tuareg rebels seized control of northern Mali, declaring independence. The Tuareg National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA in French) and Islamist Ansar Dine rebel groups merged and declared northern Mali to be an Islamic state.
Ansar Dine began to impose Islamic sharia law in the northern city of Timbuktu, a move that al Qaeda of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) supported, which forced many Christians to urgently flee to take immediate refuge in Bamako.
Where Sharia is strictly enforced, Christians face the worst kinds of persecution. As the world has watched the expansion of the Islamic State (IS) across Iraq and Syria, brothers and sisters in Christ face either forced conversion, death, or are compelled to pay a crippling tax to their Islamic overlords. In the face of these possibilities in northern Mali, Christians were pushed to leave in droves.
The threat of persecution in Mali’s north has forced Christians from Timbuktu, Kidal, Mopti and Gao alike to seek refuge in Bamako
Read more at Persecution.org…