The Archbishop of Ouagadougou has joined Muslims for Eid al-Fitr (June 4) in the capital’s Place de la Nation to show solidarity between religions after a spate of bloody attacks on Christians last month.
The recent targeting of churches threatens to upend traditionally peaceful relations between the Muslim majority and Christians, who make up a quarter of Burkinabes.
The first church attack occurred in late April, when gunmen killed a Protestant pastor and five worshipers.
Subsequently, a Catholic priest and five parishioners were killed in an attack on Dablo and a further four Catholics died in another assault a day after.
“The theme is to promote together universal human fraternity, that is the message of the holy father. From there he hopes Muslims and Christians can break down the walls of ignorance, the walls of violence, the walls of hatred, the walls of misunderstandings and to build the bridges of friendship, fraternity, ridges of mutual understanding, bridges of tolerance,” said the Archbishop of Ouagadougou, Cardinal Ouedraogo.
“I am convinced that with the Muslim brothers who have continued to pray for this country, that they will continue to do so in order for our lives, which were threatened by terrorists, by the fragmenting of social cohesion, so our country can find calm and serenity once more for the greater happiness of the children of Burkina Faso,” said the Prime Minister Christophe Dabire.
Burkina Faso’s government has blamed “terrorist groups … attacking religion with the macabre aim of dividing us.”
Violent attacks linked to the strengthening jihadist insurgency have surged this year in Burkina as well as across the broader Sahel region, an arid expanse of scrubland just south of the Sahara Desert.
Militants have also worked to sow ethnic tensions between farming and herding communities in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger in order to boost recruitment among marginalised communities.