Congo weighs bill barring only politician with Jewish heritage from presidency

“This is an egregious violation of human rights and a dangerous step backward for the Democratic Republic of Congo.”

By World Israel News Staff

A law barring the Democratic Republic of Congo’s only politician with Jewish roots – and the frontrunner in the African nation’s presidential race – from taking office has sparked outrage.

The law, reintroduced to the African nation’s parliament in Kinshasa this week, would block Moise Katumbi from running because he doesn’t have two Congolese parents.

The bill was introduced by Noel Tshiani, an ally of current president Felix Tshisekedi. Tshiani introduced a similar bill in the past, when Katumbi was also running.

Moise Katumbi is the only candidate who does not meet the new criteria. Katumbi is the son of a Congolese woman from royal descent and a Greek Sephardic Jew, Nisim Soriano, who fled to what was then a Belgian colony during the Holocaust. Katumbi’s grandparents were murdered in Auschwitz.

In his later years, Soriano emigrated to Israel, where he lived until his death. Katumbi visits Israel often and has met with Prime Minister Netanyahu as part of a delegation of Congolese governors.

Rabbi Menachem Margolin, Chairman of the European Jewish Association, attacked the proposed legislation: “I am appalled by the proposed legislation that would disqualify a leading candidate from running for office based solely on their Jewish heritage. This is an egregious violation of human rights and a dangerous step backward for the Democratic Republic of Congo. I am sure, Congolese citizens will fight against this unjust bill and ensure that all people are able to participate in the electoral process regardless of their background. I call on all who believe in justice and equality to unite in this crucial fight for the future of the DRC and the African continent as a whole.”

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The bill has been blasted by the Institute for Research in Human Rights for being “contrary to several constitutional provisions.” The Congolese organization has called on the National Assembly to vote on a “motion of preliminary rejection” due to what it sees as the “temerity” of the bill’s authors.