Burkina Faso: Salafis Urge the Government Not to Conflate Them with Jihadists [Updated]

A corollary to today’s post – about the flawed “conveyer belt” metaphor of people moving from hardline religious activism to jihadism – is that non-jihadist Salafis are very keen to avoid being labeled jihadists. Last month an example of that occurred in Burkina Faso, where there is a significant jihadist presence in the north and escalating violence in the east. Amid those developments, the Burkinabé Salafi movement Daawatoul Islamia (Islamic Call) has been urging authorities and the public not to conflate them with jihadists.

In public remarks, Daawatoul Islamia Salafi leader Mohammad Kindo praised the work of authorities and security services, described jihadist violence and banditry as divine tests, and then said:

Faced with this terrorist menace, the Burkinabé must unite and rule out any conflation between these killings, religion, and certain ethnicities. The victims of terrorism are Muslims, Christians, Mossis, Samos, Peul, etc. Therefore in the struggle against terrorism we must pay attention in order to avoid [causing] other conflicts through accusations and oppressions between the sons and daughters of our nation.

In other words, Salafi movements are keenly aware of the reputational risks – and therefore the dangers – that jihadist escalation poses for them.

Of course, Salafis are not alone in making such arguments – as International Crisis Group has put it, policymakers around the world should “disaggregate not conflate” (p. iii) when it comes to confronting jihadism.

For a brief biography of Kindo, see Frédérick Madoré’s Ph.D. dissertation, p. 182.

[Update: A reader writes privately to correct me – Daawatoul Islamia is a Salafi media platform in Burkina Faso, but Kindo and others refer to themselves as Ahl al-Sunna, “People of the Prophetic Model” – a moniker adopted by many Salafis around the world.]

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