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Editorial: Islamists spilling “rivers of Christian blood” in Africa

20 June 2023

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The young Christians at the Mpondwe Lhubiriha Secondary School in Kasese District, western Uganda, were ending their day in their usual way: singing hymns of praise.

But the sounds of praise turned swiftly to screams of horror, as Islamists from the jihadi group Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) broke into the school building and set upon the pupils with guns and machetes.

Many were shot or hacked to death. Others were burned alive as the jihadists threw petrol bombs into dormitories.

One of the school dormitories where many young Christians were burned to death by Islamists. Officials from the Ugandan Ministry of Education survey the scene of the slaughter [Image credit: Janet K Museveni]  

At least 41 people were slaughtered, the majority of them schoolchildren, boys and girls in their mid-teens. The school comprises just over 60 pupils, most of whom live there. Eight other people were critically injured, while six others were abducted and forced to help carry food the Islamists looted from the school as they made their escape into the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

As they departed the terrorists were heard shouting “Allahu Akbar” (“God is the greatest”) – a traditional Islamic declaration of faith.

Praising God for the slaughter of Christians

The 16 June mass murder of Christian schoolchildren is just the latest anti-Christian atrocity committed by an Islamist movement that is flourishing in much of sub-Saharan Africa,

The ADF – which originated in Uganda but now operates mostly in DRC – pledged allegiance to Islamic State (IS – also known as ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) in 2019. The jihadi ADF has slaughtered hundreds of Christians in north-eastern DRC, especially North Kivu province, since that time.

Other hotspots of Islamist activity include Nigeria and the neighbouring countries of West Africa. In Nigeria’s Middle Belt alone, Islamist extremists have killed more than 1,500 of our brothers and sisters in just the last 18 months.

In May 2022 Islamic State terrorists in Nigeria released a video showing the murder of 20 Christians [Image credit: Site Intelligence Group]

Another example is north-eastern Mozambique, where IS-affiliated jihadists have killed thousands of Christians – often by beheading – since 2017, giving gratuitous praise to Allah in statements on social media.

In February 2023, for instance, Islamic State Mozambique (ISM) reported that “the soldiers of the Caliphate … captured five Christians and slaughtered them, praise be to God”.

“Heaps of Christian corpses”

A recently published report by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) highlights the growing Islamist violence in sub-Saharan Africa, much of it directed towards Christians.

ISM, for an example, celebrated in January 2022 building their Islamic province “on heaps of Christian corpses and rivers of their blood”.

While IS and al-Qaeda have been beaten back in their earlier stronghold of the Middle East, these groups have “found new pastures in Africa”. The result is “a steady, slow motion, constant campaign of genocide” against Christians in places such as DRC, Mozambique and Nigeria.

The Islamists follow the same tactics as those in Iraq and Syria: mass killings, execution-style beheadings, burning church buildings. All of this is celebrated in slickly produced publications and social media campaigns designed to entice the next generation of bloodthirsty Islamist terrorists.

How are we to respond in the face of this awful brutality meted out against our Christian family? The best thing we can do is pray, trusting that the Lord remains in control. His enemies will never be victorious, but His children “will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Matthew 13:43). 

‘’It was a miracle to find her strapped to her dead mother, lying on the ground hours after the attacks.” Please see our recent appeal for Christian victims of violence in Nigeria.

Related Countries

Africa, Uganda