RPF regime vs. religions: case of Muslims

By The Rwandan Analyst

Recently, President Kagame Paul in his speech talked about RDF intervention in Mozambique and revealed that among Al-shabab rebels there some rwandans. As the Mozambican rebels had previously stated that they may import their war in Rwanda as reprisals against its involvement in their country, the consequence was that either attacks were carried out or rebels planning such battles were intercepted. Unsurprisingly, series of young muslims were arrested allegedly caught red handed with explosives to bomb many buildings of the capital Kigali. Are they really al-shabab rebels? what are the real purposes of Rwandan regime to apprehend those innocent young muslims? The present lines intend to discuss these issues.

Relationships between Rwandan regime and religions 

Since it took the power in 1994, the RPF regime has been in conflicts with religious institutions operating in Rwanda, globally accusing them to not have prevented tribal misunderstandings which culminated in killings which who have bloodied the country. 

Catholic church

In its advances during the rebellion, the RPA soldiers attacked the religious and did not hesitate to assassinate them.Thus,  in Byumba, later in April, RPF soldiers killed a Spanish priest, Joaquin Valmajo, and three Rwandan priests: Abbés Joseph Hitimana, Faustin Mulindwa, and Fidèle Mulinda. On April 25 soldiers intercepted Father Valmajo and his Rwandan colleagues at Kageyo and prevented them from continuing on to Rwesero. They insulted them in front of UNAMIR soldiers, who did not intervene, and ordered them to go to the town of Byumba. Once there, Father Valmajo was in touch with Spanish authorities by radio for three days and then disappeared. After urgent inquiries from the Spanish government, an RPF official requested information from Col. Kayumba Nyamwasa, then deputy head of the general staff of the National Police and effectively the head of military intelligence. Colonel Kayumba reported that RPF soldiers had killed the priest and this conclusion was passed on to the Spanish government. On April 21, 1994 the RPF killed Catholic priests who had sought refuge at Rwesero Seminary. These priests are: Christian Nkiliyehe, Anastase Nkundabanyanga, Joseph Hitimana, Gaspard Mudashimwa, Alexis Havugimana, Celestin Muhayimana, Augustin Mashyenderi, and Fidele Mulinda. So far, no RPF soldier has been prosecuted. The killings of foreign nationals such as Father Valmajo of Spain, killed at Nyinawimana in April 1994; Father Claude Simard, a Canadian killed on October 17, 1994; three Spanish employees of the non government organization Medicos del Mundo killed on 18 January 1997; Father Guy Pinard, a Canadian killed on February 2, 1997, Father Curick Vjechoslav of Croatia assassinated in Kigali in 1998, and Father Duchamp, a Canadian.The most widely known and condemned of executions by RPF soldiers were the slayings of the Roman Catholic archbishop of Kigali, three other bishops, and ten priests at Byimana parish, near Kabgayi in early June. The one priest who survived the attack related that the group of clergy were arrested by the RPF at Kabgayi and moved to Byimana on June 2. Several days later soldiers who were guarding the clergy burst into the room where they were gathered and shot them dead. The priest who managed to flee was later captured by RPF soldiers who agreed to release him only after he accepted their version of events, that is, that the soldiers carried out the killings in reprisal for the slaughter of their own families. When the RPF officially admitted responsibility for the slayings several days later, it declared that one of the murderers had been killed in flight and that the others were being sought and would be tried. Apparently none was ever caught and RPF authorities have never made public any proof to substantiate their claim that the slayings were unauthorized reprisal killings. Archbishop Vincent Nsengiyumva was known for his closeness to Habyarimana, but not all in the group held such a position. Bishop Thaddée Nsengiyumva, who was also murdered, had favored political reform and had sought to distance the church from Habyarimana’s government. On June 5, 1994 RPF soldiers summarily executed three Catholic bishops: Vincent Nsengiyumva, Archbishop of Kigali; Thaddée Nsengiyumva, bishop of Kabgayi; Joseph Ruzindana, bishop of Byumba; and nine Catholic priests: Mgr. Innocent Gasabwoya, former General Vicar Bishop of Kamonyi; Mgr. Jean-Marie Vianney Rwabilinda, Father Emmanuel Uwimana, Chancellor of the minor seminary of Kabgayi, Father Sylvestre Ndaberetse, Father Bernard Ntamugabumwe, Father Francois Xavier Muligo, Father Alfred Kayibanda, and Fidele Gahonzire Human RPF soldiers also executed Brother Jean Baptiste Nsinga, President of St Joseph Brothers.the persecution of the catholic clergy went on in DRC where were killed Archbishop Christophe Munzihirwa of Bukavu and Mgr Nikwigize Phocas former bishop of Ruhengeri.


This Pentecost church is now suffering from leadership crisis where the Rwandan governance board(RGB) daily appoints pastors who are RPF partisans and dismisses pastors who did not espouse its ideology. This practice disoriented followers of this church so that they started leaving it and join other new sects.   

RPF and Muslims

The presence of RDF in Mozambique where it is fighting al-shabab is an opportunity to persecute Rwandan Muslims who are not supporters of RPF.    

The tandem Shiites and Sunnis 

The Rwanda Muslim Community (RMC) is constituted by Sunnis and the latter does not represent all Muslims given that there are also Shiites and the two tendencies are often follow conflictual theological positions. In the beginning of RPF regime, Muslims were on good terms with the government and some said they had not been involved in the genocide, ignoring great figures like Ngeze Hassan and Yussuf Munyakazi who are jailed by ICTR for that crime.With time, RPF interfered in the election of muftis. The issue which is not yet handled is that the regime supports the candidates coming from Rwanda Muslim Community dominated by Sunnis while Shiits also constitute a good number and then RPF applying  the rule «divide ut imperas», Shiites are considered as terrorists and enemies of the nation.

Arrested young people 

Rwandan police  arrested 13 people suspected of plotting “terrorist” attacks in the capital Kigali and paraded them before the media.The suspects were arrested with bomb-making materials including explosives, wires, nails and phones, Rwandan National Police said in a statement.”Investigations have revealed that the terror cell worked with Allied Democratic Forces (ADF),” it said, referring to a suspected jihadist group active in the east of the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The feared ADF, historically a Ugandan rebel group, has been accused of killing thousands of civilians in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Some of its attacks have been claimed by the Islamic State Group, which has designated the ADF as Islamic State Central Africa Province (ISCAP).The United States in March officially linked the ADF to the IS group and identified its leader as Seka Musa Baluku.In August, Uganda said it had foiled a suicide bombing on the funeral of a top military and police commander, Paul Lokech, and blamed it on the ADF.Lokech, nicknamed the “Lion of Mogadishu”, had led African Union units that routed Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab from the Somali capital in 2011.In Kigali, a Rwandan police spokesman said the first arrest had taken place in August with more following in September. The alleged attack plot was announced as Rwandan troops are fighting IS-linked jihadists in northern Mozambique. However, for analysts who know the functioning of intelligence services, those young Muslims arrested and seemingly confessing the alleged conspiracy to shell buildings of the capital are just innocent and they are under intimidation after torture in safe houses. 

The real identity of the alleged terrorists

The group is constituted of young Shiites considered as enemies by the Sunnis group and are victims of false denunciations by RMC as confirmed by the Check of Nyanza in Southern province. Among them, there are those who had disappeared earlier. The identification of this innocent young people proves that the regime is just justifying its involvements in Mozambique and  intimidating the part of Muslims who are not easily complying with RPF.    


Do not do nothing without us; this is the general message addressed to all private institutions including traders but also the clergy.The disintegration of religions by the regime is similar to what is done in the private sector where prolific tycoons are impoverished when they dare to exclude the regime in their businesses. Otherwise, the Rwandan Muslims have to be careful and stick to their unity because the regime wants to divide them as it has done to other religions.