Niger: Christians at the crossroads of religious persecution

In Niger, an African nation currently under military rule, Christians face severe persecution from radical Islamist groups. According to recent Fides reports, these groups, pejoratively referred to as “bandits”, are imposing forced conversions to Islam under threat of severe economic and social consequences for those who refuse to convert.

Christian men over the age of 15 face an ultimatum: convert to Islam or pay a financial tax. Those who decline both options are forced to abandon their homes and properties, and to leave the towns where they have resided all their lives, in search of safety in less hostile places.

The current context in Niger, with a military government that has proven ineffective in combating these practices, aggravates the situation. These extremist groups exploit the extreme poverty of many young people, luring them with promises of wealth and a better life. As they take over more territory, the situation for Christians becomes increasingly unsustainable.

This persecution in Niger is not an isolated case; It is part of a broader problem affecting several countries in the Sahel belt, such as Mali and Burkina Faso, where similar groups are expanding their influence and control through violence and religious coercion.

The testimonies collected by Fides reveal the fear and desperation of the Christian communities, which are forced to flee or submit to the demands of the radicals. The world watches with concern as the stability of the region deteriorates, and religious minorities pay the price of a conflict that threatens to expand and deepen even further in this part of the African continent.

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