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Congolese religious leaders use their unique role to organize nonviolent protests.

Congolese religious leaders use their unique role to organize nonviolent protests.

Context:

Religious leaders can leverage their unique role in societies to constructively transform conflict and organize nonviolent movements.

Congolese activists across the country — with the help of Catholic lay leaders — have coordinated dispersed marches and prayers against dictator Joseph Kabila, who continues to lead the country despite his last term having expired in December 2016.

In the News:

  • Congolese activists across the country — with the help of Catholic lay leaders — have coordinated dispersed marches and prayers against dictator Joseph Kabila, who continues to lead the country despite his last term having expired in December 2016.
  • The church has led calls to action against Kabila’s regime. Congolese Catholics — whose leadership had brokered a deal to allow Kabila to remain in power through 2017 with the understanding that elections would be organized before the year’s end — participated along with a few Protestant counterparts in the December protests, often with clergy marching at the frontlines.

Peace Science Insights:

  • Religious actors can draw on their respected positions in society and assert their neutrality in order to build personal relationships with and influence multiple conflict parties during war and during peace negotiations.
  • Religious actors can also mobilize tools/resources particular to their religious traditions—prayer, sacred texts, religious values, etc.—to persuade conflict parties and the broader public to abstain from violence and/or to participate in peacemaking and reconciliation efforts.

References:

Peace Science Digest: Volume 2, Issue 1. “Examining Religious Peacebuilding in Sierra Leone”

Youth activists and Catholic lay leaders organize for a DRC without Kabila. Phil WIlmot for Waging Nonviolence. Feb 7, 2018.

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