“We call for reason, restraint, responsibility”: Bishops in Senegal amid Deadly Protests

Catholic Bishops in Senegal at a press conference on 2 June 2023. Credit: Courtesy Photo

Catholic Bishops in Senegal are “very concerned” about the violent protests in the country that have resulted in the loss of at least nine lives, and are appealing for “restraint”, and for reason to prevail over emotions.

On Thursday, June 1, nine people were reportedly killed in parts of Senegal’s capital, Dakar, as well as in other cities following clashes between riot police and supporters of opposition leader Ousmane Sonko after a court sentenced him to two years in jail, Reuters reported

The opposition in the West African nation have termed the court’s verdict, which could prevent Sonko from running in next year’s elections, “politically motivated”.

In their collective statement shared with ACI Africa Friday, June 2, members of the Episcopal Conference of Senegal, Mauritania, Cape Verde and Guinea Bissau say, “We are very concerned about the social and political climate currently prevailing in our country, particularly with the events we have been experiencing.”

They express their concern about the “many human victims, as well as all the acts of destruction of public and private property” and the general “climate of fear and insecurity” that currently prevails.


“We call for reason, restraint and responsibility from all those involved in the violence,” the Catholic Church leaders say, and go on to invite “political leaders and their militants to put the greater good of our Nation ahead of partisan interests and personal ambitions.”

The Catholic Bishops remind Senegalese of their duty “to build and develop our country together, in peace, loyalty and mutual respect,” and add, “We say No to violence! Yes to Peace!”

“For the present and future of our Nation, we invite all political, social and economic actors, as well as religious leaders, to put the general interest first, and to promote justice, truth, peace and social equity, in their words and deeds,” the Catholic Church leaders say.

While the Senegalese “Constitution guarantees freedom of expression to all,” the Catholic Bishops say, there is need for the citizens “to speak truthfully, respectfully, responsibly and constructively.”

In their collective statement dated June 2, Catholic Bishops in Senegal urge the youth not to “give in to despair or manipulation, to the point of burning, ransacking and destroying the property of others and of the community.”

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They also invite the youth to return to “values, in particular respect for human life, the promotion of the common good and peace.” 

The Catholic Bishops further call citizens of the West African nation “to respect the Laws and Regulations, and the institutions of the Republic, which guarantee our life together.”

Army troops have been deployed to parts of Dakar to reinforce security, according to Reuters.

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.