The high representative for the UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), Miguel Moratinos, on Sunday strongly condemned the brutal killing of a religious figure in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Sheikh Ali Amin Uthman, the representative of the Islamic community of Beni, was killed on Saturday when unidentified gunmen stormed the central mosque and shot him dead during evening prayers. Moratinos also denounced the violent attacks over the past days in nearby villages that left 19 people dead.

Sheikh Uthman had been often vocal in his denunciation of violent extremism, said Nihal Saad, Moratinos’ spokeswoman, in a press statement.

Moratinos expressed the hope that the perpetrators of these heinous crimes would soon be brought to justice. He extended his deepest condolences to the family of Sheikh Uthman as well as the families of the other victims who were killed in the past few days in eastern DRC, said the statement.

Moratinos called for respect for the sanctity of the holy month of Ramadan and hoped that the spirit of compassion, peace and mutual respect prevails.

He recalled the recommendations of the UN Plan of Action to Safeguard Religious Sites and stressed the inherent right of everyone to practice the rituals of their religions or beliefs freely and safely, it said.

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