Butembo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, May 5, 2021 / 15:01 pm
The Democratic Republic of the Congo has seen an increase in attacks that target Christians in what a Catholic bishop in the central African country has described as a path towards Islamization.
Bishop Melchisedec Sikuli Paluku of Butembo-Beni spoke May 3 to the pontifical charity Aid to the Church in Need International, discussing the abduction of Christians and the widespread construction of mosques in the country.
Bishop Paluku, who has been Bishop of Butembo-Beni since 1998, said that those behind the persecution of Christians have “a grand scheme to Islamize or expel the local populations.”
When asked why he spoke of Islamization when the main organization involved in the abductions and the attacks in the region is the Allied Democratic Forces, an Islamist rebel group, the bishop said: “All those who have been kidnapped by these terrorist groups and who have escaped alive from them report the same thing.”
“They (victims) were given the choice between death and conversion to Islam,” Bishop Paluku said, adding that “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.”
He says that for many years Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi had a lot of interest in DR Congo and gave generously toward the building of mosques in the country.
The Bishop of Butembo-Beni added that today “other sources” have taken over the funding of the construction of the buildings.
He said the militant groups are involved in mining to expand their sources of funding.