Cape Town Interfaith Initiative (CTII) is appalled by an incident of religious extremism in Burkina Faso on 11 January which resulted in the execution of nine senior members of the Ahmadiyya Jama’at in Mahdiabad, Burkina Faso.
Imam Bidiga Boureima and eight elders were amongst their community preparing for Isha prayers when their mosque was invaded by extremists declaring the Ahmadis to be infidels. Imam Boureima was taken to another venue where he was questioned about other Ahmadiyya communities in Burkina Faso. He was then taken back to his mosque where he and the elders were threatened with death unless they renounced Ahmadiyyat. The Imam refused, and was executed. One by one, the elders also refused to renounce their religion and were executed. We understand that following further threats, more than 600 community members fled the village.
Our hearts share the grief of the Ahmadii community worldwide, and we denounce religious persecution in all forms. None of our religions call us to hate, and all of our religions promote peace, tolerance and compassion.
We further declare our abhorrence of violent extremism in any form.
Cape Town Interfaith Initiative stands with our colleagues at the Ahmadiyya Jama’at of South Africa at this tragic time. We redouble our efforts to bring about religious understanding through dialogue, through our Interfaith/Intercultural Schools Programme and through continually bringing together people of diverse religions to pray and take action together for the greater good.
This horrific atrocity highlights the need for communities of diverse religions to protect one another by building community and personal relationships that unite us all as a human race, no matter which religion we choose to follow. Religious freedom is a constitutionally protected right which we are committed to upholding.
All crises and tragedies have a hidden potential for us to learn. May we as humanity, and as Africans, explore the timeless ethos of Ubuntu, in which all our divisions are shown to be ultimately illusory.
We call on all religious communities to redouble their efforts at seeking larger circles of inclusion and peace, both within their own traditions as well as beyond them.
CTII adheres to the principles of the Charter for Compassion which states: “The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves”.
When we lose the right to be different, we lose the right to be free. – Nelson Mandela