By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) - Islamic militants have created an online hit list that encourages Muslims to assassinate Christian leaders in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, Worthy News established Friday.
Greg Kelley, who leads the World Mission group working in the area, said the list was “a call to warfare against people that are propagating and sharing the Gospel in Mauritania.”
He added, “There’s a number of key Christian leaders that we’re working with whose names are on this list. And it’s just a green light to take them out.”
It comes amid international concern about Islamic extremism in the former French colony. “The country faces a number of issues, including ethnic tensions and a terrorist threat,” said the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in a recent assessment.
In addition, there are strict laws against evangelization, and conversion from Islam is punishable by death, according to Christians familiar with the situation. Christian converts also face prosecution from their families, Worthy News learned.
Despite the dangers, Kelley says local Christians continue to gather in the officially ‘100 percent’ Islamic nation.
His World Mission group supplies believers with solar-powered audio Bibles in Arabic and French-backed by donors in the United States and other nations. “What we’ve seen is over 30 house churches developed just in the last year. It’s amazing when we think about a country like Mauritania. The power of the Word of God to transform hearts is very much at work,” the mission leader added.
However, with “almost the entire population is considered unreached by the Gospel,” the church in Mauritania is still tiny.
Some 400 to 1,000 Mauritanian Christians, along with a few thousand expatriate believers, live among the North African country’s Muslim population of 4 million, missionaries estimate.
The persecution of Christians in the ex-French colony comes as Islamic terror groups remain active in the mainly desert nation, according to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
“Between 2005 and 2011, [terror group] Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) launched a series of attacks killing American and foreign tourists and aid workers,” the CIA recalled.
The agency added that terrorists were also “attacking diplomatic and government facilities, and ambushing Mauritanian soldiers and gendarmes.”
Although Mauritania has not seen an attack since 2011, “AQIM and similar groups remain active in the Sahel region and continue to pose a threat to Mauritanians and foreign visitors,” the CIA said.
Mission World’s Kelly said he had urged his supporters to remember the small but devoted Christian minority in the troubled impoverished country with its large nomadic groups. “Obviously, we need to pray for God to protect them. Because these are the key people that are leading the Church of Jesus Christ and advancing the Gospel in these places.”
Their plight has not improved under Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Ghazouani, a former general and defense minister.
He became president in 2019 in what observers described as the desert nation’s first peaceful transfer of power since independence from France in 1960.