Rwanda’s crisis of faith
cynthia yoo | December 17, 2007 at 01:11 pmby
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From Samer, photo-journalist and lawyer, working in Rwanda:
Religion has a long and complicated history in Rwanda.
Many here have become more religious after the Genocide as a way to make sense of the atrocities and obtain a certain degree of solace. But for many others, they have either turned their backs entirely on organized religion or converted away from Catholicism, which they believe was complicit in the genocide of 1994.
The evidence is striking: four days after the genocide began, the Catholic Church issued a statement asking followers to back the government, which was supporting the militias engaged in the killings. Clergy members continued to participate in local security committee meetings, despite the work of those committees in organizing the mass killings. The church allowed politicians to claim divine inspiration for the genocide. And some clergy directly participated in the killings (of course, this did not apply to every Catholic religious authority).
As a result, one of the dramatic consequences of the genocide was the change of faith, amongst both Tutsis and Hutus, from Catholicism to other Christian sects as well as Islam. The number of Muslims in Rwanda has doubled in the past 10 years because their community remained intact during the horrible events of 1994. Hutu members of the Muslim community by and large did not participate in the genocide and were even actively offering protection to the Tutsis.
I went to a Muslim neighbourhood in Kigali one Sunday afternoon and was welcomed at the Masjid Al-Fath with open arms. Here are my pics from that afternoon: Samer goes to Mosque in Kigali
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