Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Thursday 23 September |
Saint of the Day: St. Pio of Pietrelcina
home iconNews
line break icon

Islamist militants are terrorizing the Democratic Republic of the Congo

CONGO

Aid to the Church in Need

Thomas Oswald-ACN - published on 05/05/21 - updated on 05/05/21

Terrorists are kidnapping people and giving them the choice between converting to Islam or death.

Bishop Paluku Sikuli Melchisédech of the diocese of Butembo-Beni, in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, has denounced the failure of his government in the face of the challenges confronting it. Terrorists are expelling the indigenous populations from their homes, while criminals are trafficking in the exploitation of Congo’s mineral resources, completely undisturbed.

ACN: Since the beginning of April a wave of demonstrations, some of them violent, have shaken your country, calling for an end to the insecurity. What is your position in regard to these demonstrations? 

Bishop Paluku Sikuli Melchisédech: You cannot ask people who are being slaughtered like animals to simply shut up and do nothing. They have every right to demand security, every right to demand freedom. We simply urge that this should be done with respect for the law, peacefully and without violence. 

congo

What are they protesting about exactly? 

The completely ineffectual nature of the UN peacekeeping mission. But more broadly about the continuing ongoing conflicts, which have never been sorted out and which are continuing in the east of the country. When I became bishop, 20 years ago, people were already talking about the ‘Balkanisation’ of the region. I can only say that the expression still applies today! The national Congolese Bishops’ Conference calculates that there have been over 6,000 people killed in Beni since 2013 and over 2,000 in Bunia in the year 2020 alone. There are also an estimated at least 3 million internal refugees and around 7,500 people who have been kidnapped. There is a grand scheme to Islamise or expel the local populations. 

Why do you speak of Islamization? The main organization involved, the so-called Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), does not claim to be an Islamist organization. 

All those who have been kidnapped by these terrorist groups and who have escaped alive from them report the same thing. They were given the choice between death and conversion to Islam. They are given Muslim names to cement their identity. Besides, even those who live in the diocese and haven’t gone through this traumatic experience can tell you that mosques are springing up everywhere.

Who is funding them? 

In his time Mouammar Kadhafi gave very generously towards the building of these mosques. Now there are other sources of funding that are paying for the construction of these buildings. 

As for the funding of the armed terrorist groups, they are engaged in some very lucrative activities. It is plain to see that Islamisation is not their sole motivation! This region abounds with natural resources and they are being exploited completely illegally. How else can you explain those coltan refineries that are operating in Rwanda, when the country has none of this resource? Instead this rare mineral is extracted here in our region and exported quite illegally across the other side of the frontier. And I see no sign of the Congolese government being concerned.

CONGO

Are you denouncing a silent complicity on the part of your government? 

Either it is weakness, or else it is complicity. 

Are you not taking a risk in denouncing the government of Congo in this way? 

The Congolese Catholic Church is not concerned in this respect. She has done so much for the construction of the country and she manages so many schools and hospitals! Congo would not be the Congo without the Church. So we are fortunate in being able to speak out quite freely. 

This article was first published by Aid to the Church in Need and is republished here with kind permission. To learn more about ACN’s mission to help the suffering Church, visit www.churchinneed.org (from the U.S.) and www.acninternational.org (outside of the U.S.).

Tags:
Christians in AfricaIslamist Militants
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
ANMOL RODRIGUEZ
Domitille Farret d'Astiès
Attacked with acid as a baby, Anmol Rodriguez overcomes and inspi...
2
Our Lady of La Salette
Philip Kosloski
How Our Lady of La Salette can give us hope in darkness
3
OUR LADY
Philip Kosloski
An alternative Hail Mary to Our Lady of Sorrows
4
PRAY
Philip Kosloski
Pray this Psalm when you successfully recover from an illness
5
SLEEPING
Cecilia Pigg
7 Ways the saints can help you sleep better at night
6
RESURRECTION
Philip Kosloski
Your body is not a “shell” for your spirit
7
ORTHODOX COMMUNION
Philip Kosloski
Why do some Eastern Catholics use spoons for Holy Communion?
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.