Bishop Georges Varkey Puthiyakulangara of Port-Bergé, northern Madagascar has lamented that his country is being islamised on a fast pace. The most worrying situation according to him, is the fact that extremist muslims are exploiting poor non-Muslim women by paying them to wear the burka.
In an interview with Aid to the Church in Need, Bishop Georges said:
“We have learned that in the universities the young, non-Muslim female students are being paid three Euros a day to wear the burka.
“They are taking advantage of the poverty of the people, and especially of the students who need money. 85 percent of the people are living below the poverty threshold.”
The Bishop explained that this practice coupled with other factors has led to the increase in the number of muslims in the Country as in the past, there were only Comorese, Pakistanis and a few Madagascans, “but now people are arriving from abroad, we don’t know how, and there is recruitment within the country.”, he said.
“They are building mosques everywhere. In fact, there is an agreement with the government to build 2,400 mosques.
“In my diocese, for example, there are no Muslims, and yet many mosques are being built. At the same time they are trying to convert people, setting up Koranic schools and giving scholarships to the children who attend them.”
As a glimmer of hope in the midst of all these, the Bishop thanked ACN for its support to the local Church in Madagascar.
He said: “Thanks to ACN, we were able to build a chapel in the prison where I was prison chaplain, as well as a room to be used as a library, for teaching catechism and combating illiteracy.
“This has given new hope to the prisoners and they can see the merciful face of the Church, which is there to help them and at the same time improve their conditions of life.”