Bishops in DR Congo Concerned about Killing of Imam Who Condemned Jihadism

Late Sheikh Ali Amin, President of the Islamic community in the city of Beni in North Kivu Province in the Eastern part of DR Congo assassinated May 1. Credit: Courtesy Photo

Members of the Standing Committee of the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO) say that they are “all concerned” at the height of violence in Eastern parts of Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) where an Imam who is said to have spoken strongly against jihadism in the country has been murdered.

In their joint submission with ​​the Association of Episcopal Conferences of Central Africa (ACEAC) to the country’s parliamentarians, the Catholic Bishops appeal to authorities to act to end violence in the Central African nation, especially in the Eastern region covered by the Catholic Diocese of Butembo-Beni in the Ecclesiastical Province of Bukavu.

The Catholic Church leaders make reference to the May 1 assassination of Sheikh Ali Amin, President of the Islamic community in the city of Beni in North Kivu Province in the Eastern part of DRC.

Information provided by local non-governmental organization Center for Studies for the Promotion of Peace, Democracy and Human Rights (CEPADHO) indicates that the Muslim leader was murdered on May 1 at a Mosque in Beni in the Municipality of Ruwenzori where he was leading the evening prayer.

In their statement shared with ACI Africa on Tuesday, May 4, the leadership of CENCO says that the target on the Muslim leader means that no one is safe in the country.


“We cannot sleep until the situation evolves there. You learned that a religious was killed there, he is a Muslim. Tomorrow it will be a Catholic, a Protestant. So, we are all concerned,” Fr. Donatien Nshole, Secretary General of CENCO, said.

Agenzia Fides, the information service of the Vatican's Propaganda Fide, has reported that Sheikh Ali’s murderers managed to break into the Mosque, shooting the Imam in the head.

The Imam’s killer is then said to have fled with an accomplice who was waiting on a motorcycle in front of the mosque.

In the Agenzia Fides report, the leadership of CEPADHO says it is “deeply shocked by this crime and strongly condemns it.”

“We call on the security forces and the responsible military authorities to seek and arrest the perpetrators of this terrorist act,” the leadership of the peace organization says in the May 4 report, and adds, “CEPADHO believes that the assassination of Sheikh Ali Amin was the work of the jihadist militias of the ADF/MTM (Allied Democratic Forces / Madinat Tawhid wa-l-Muwahidin).”

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Agenzia Fides has reported that the day before his death, Sheikh Ali condemned, in his sermon, jihadism and the massacres of innocent civilians in the region.

Additionally, security services were aware of the extent of the threats to Sheikh Ali Amin and tried to “offer him special protection last month,” the information of service of Propaganda Fide reports.

CEPADHO has encouraged Muslim believers not to be intimidated and to follow the slain Imam’s footsteps “to preach an Islam of peace”, recalling that attacks perpetrated by the two main terrorist groups in Beni resulted in the death of 22 civilians in a span of only 48 hours.

Meanwhile, members of ACEAC and CENCO have, in their meeting with the President of the National Assembly of DRC, Christophe Mboso Pwanga, expressed their commitment to support authorities in the fight against violence in the country.

Speaking to local journalists, Fr. Nshole gave the context of the Monday, May 3 meeting by affirming that the CENCO members had made a commitment to support the institutions of the State for the well-being of the population.


“The Parliament is one of the great institutions, which deserve the accompaniment of our father Bishops who are not politicians, but who watch over the same people for which the deputies are responsible,” the Secretary General of CENCO says in a statement shared with ACI Africa.

The Congolese Cleric says that it is CENCO’s initiative that gave material to the parliamentary mission, which he says has been dispatched to the troubled Eastern part of the country.

Fr. Nshole expresses concern that life in the troubled region has come to a standstill, with several social activities being suspended owing to the violence that has rocked the region. Schools, he says, have also been closed for fear of attacks.

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.