Senegalese Archbishop Benjamin Ndiaye has summoned journalists to help wake people up to the gravity of the jihad threat posed by Islamists.
“In the face of current jihadist threats, journalists must play their role of watchfulness and alert,” said the archbishop of Dakar during a conference for Catholic journalists and communicators held this past weekend in the Senegalese capital.
“The jihadist attacks that threaten our security, peace, and the lives of men and women in the Sahel region call on us to serve as an alert to awaken consciences in the name of God’s gift of life,” Ndiaye said.
In his address, the archbishop urged Catholic communicators to ask themselves “who and what are besieging us and threatening us today as earlier the security of Jerusalem was besieged and threatened.”
Ndiaye told the Catholic journalists they have a mission to decipher the signs of the times in order to help society improve, telling them to draw inspiration from the way Jesus communicated by travelling through “cities and villages, with a mobility that allowed him to be close to people.” Like Jesus, “moved with compassion” for the vulnerable crowds who were like sheep without a shepherd, Catholic communicators must find the words to lift up their fellow men, he said.
In past months, Senegal has stepped up security in the wake of jihadist violence in neighboring Mali.
In the Senegalese border town of Moudery, the “Committee of Vigilance,” a citizen patrol group created six years ago to protect residents from robberies, now focuses on identifying potential jihadists entering the country.
It was members of the U.N.’s migration organization (IOM) who identified the program as a model for border towns to secure their communities “against the threat of jihadist violence,” reaching out to local authorities and assisting in the transformation of the Committee.
At least since 2016, the United Nations has expressed concern for Senegal’s vulnerability to jihadist attacks, toting that “Senegal is a pro-Western partner, especially of France and the United States, and Dakar has provided troops to the French-backed African Union military intervention in Mali.”
“There is ample evidence of Senegalese recruitment to various jihadist causes,” the U.N. reported, noting that Senegalese figured among Islamic State forces in Libya and that others were believed to have fought alongside Islamist militants in northern Mali.