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About Christian persecution in Mali

It used to be that persecution was mainly towards Muslim background believers (MBBs) and from their tribes and families when their faith became known. Ironically as this began to get better jihadists arrived around ten years ago, armed with weapons from the Libyan breakdown in 2010, and organized by Islamic State fighters fleeing the Middle East. A cell group from the Islamic State in the Maghreb (AQIM) began to occupy parts of northern Mali and targeted all foreigners, of which many were Christians involved in healthcare and education.

This group has pushed steadily southwards where Christians are more concentrated and allied themselves with the Tuareg tribe who seek independence. There have been two coups in the space of two years in 2020 and 2021, and a military government tries to beat back the jihadists, but the population is caught in the middle. Says a Christian leader, “If you are a Christian in the north of the country, you are thinking of fleeing if you have not already – churches have been torched, Christian girls are at constant risk of kidnapping, and outreach is the most hazardous activity possible.”


Roman Catholics arrived in Mali


Protestants arrived


Transitional President President Assimi Goïta


23.6 M

Christian pop.

476 K

“I left my home and church in ashes in 2021 when jihadists mounted a co-ordinated attack. They knew who we were. We fled south but the war is always on. We thank God in the midst of this insurgency, people are turning to Christ in greater numbers than ever before.”


History of Christianity

Mali is majority Muslim and has been for hundreds of years. Christianity only came to this vast Saharan hinterland in 1888 when Roman Catholic missionaries arrived, and then Protestants arrived in 1919.

The country became independent in 1960 but until around ten years ago relations were good between the Muslim majority and the Christian majority, many of whom are well educated and even represented in Government. There is also a sizeable Muslim Background Believer community among the nomadic groups of the Sahel.

Stories from MALI

January 14, 2021

Betrayed, watched and martyred: 5 major trends in persecution against Christians

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March 6, 2020

A ‘living death’: How Christian women experience persecution

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January 22, 2020

Facial recognition technology ushers in new wave of Christian persecution

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