A group of 700 Muslim imams and preachers in Burkina Faso on Monday denounced "religious and ethnic intolerance" after calls for the killing of Fulanis in the country, which is plagued by jihadist violence.
"We, Burkinabe, are playing a pernicious self-destructive role (...) by spreading messages inciting religious and ethnic intolerance which can be a source of extremely violent confrontations," said a statement by Moussa Kouanda, president of the Federation of Islamic Associations of Burkina (FAIB), issued at the end of a seminar that brought together more than 700 imams and preachers in Ouagadougou.
The statement added that this "translates into hateful and violent speech, particularly in the media and on … social networks."
"Under these conditions, how can we be united in the face of adversity? How can we generate the synergies necessary for national construction?", the FAIB asks, urging people to "rise above themselves to give a chance of survival to the nation" which "is living through some of the darkest days in its history".
FAIB instructed imams and preachers to work to "promote national reconciliation and the restoration of social cohesion" and "stimulate a general mobilization for the only fight that is worthwhile today: a multi-faceted and relentless struggle to restore the integrity of our territory, for the return of security and peace.
The statement comes after calls for hatred and murder of the Fulani in Burkina Faso, who have been likened to the armed jihadist groups that have been bloodying the country since 2015 and whose members are from the Fulani community.
Calls launched on social networks, mainly WhatsApp, which raise fears of an outbreak of violence that could go as far as civil war and which have led the government, which emerged from a coup in January, to condemn them firmly.
Noting that "there are direct and active calls for murder, mass killings, ethnic cleansing, and sedition," the government said it must "act resolutely and firmly before the irreparable happens.
Burkina Faso, where the Muslim community is in the majority, is facing increasingly frequent and deadly attacks attributed to armed jihadist groups linked to Al Qaeda and the Islamic State.