News / Africa

    CAR Crisis Opens Rift Between Muslims, Christians

    Julienne Mbetidemo sits outside the remains of her home, burned by Seleka rebels, in the village of Ngangue, 10 kilometers (6 miles) from Mbres, Central African Republic, July 27, 2013.
    Julienne Mbetidemo sits outside the remains of her home, burned by Seleka rebels, in the village of Ngangue, 10 kilometers (6 miles) from Mbres, Central African Republic, July 27, 2013.
    Gabe Joselow
    As the security situation in the Central African Republic continues to deteriorate, a new unsettling rivalry between Muslim and Christian communities has started to take hold.

    Under the shade of a thatched roof, George Fakida and his workers are making knives from scrap metal at a small workshop in the Boeing neighborhood of Bangui.

    He says business is going well these days, but a few weeks ago the shop was forced to shut down, when soldiers from the ruling rebel coalition Seleka raided the neighborhood, looking for fighters loyal to the former president.

    Residents say the soldiers forced them to hand over televisions, telephones, money and other valuables. The United Nations says fighting in Boeing and other areas of the capital at the end of August killed 10 people and forced thousands to flee.

    While the raids appeared to be politically motivated, Fakida believes it was all about religion.

    “Almost all of us are Christians in Boeing,” he said, “and the majority of the rebels are Muslim and do not like Christian people. That’s why they came to our area to attack the people.”

    Central African Republic is a majority Christian nation; about 10 percent of the population is Muslim.

    In March, a rebel movement from mostly Muslim parts of the country overthrew the devoutly Christian president, Francois Bozize, and installed the country’s first Muslim leader, former diplomat Michel Djotodia.

    While the country has been wracked by insecurity since independence from France in 1960, people here say religion had never been a factor until now.

    Ndiaye Selehou, an imam at the Nour al Yaqin mosque in Bangui, says people have been preoccupied with the violence between the two communities since the rebellion.

    “Since Seleka arrived everyone has been talking about Muslims killing Christians and vice versa,” he said. “But it is our wish that we just live in peace."

    In an incident this weekend, community militia members loyal to former President Bozize attacked Seleka positions in the town of Bossangoa north of the capital.
    The Christian community, the majority in Bossangoa, fled the town, possibly fearing Seleka reprisals.

    In another incident in the nearby town of Bouca, Bozize supporters reportedly torched Muslim homes.

    The government says up to 100 people have been killed in the violence, although exact numbers are difficult to confirm.

    Seleka spokesman Guy Simplice Kodegue tells VOA the Muslim population of the country was long neglected by the former regime, and is still under attack by his supporters.

    He says the divisive religious aspect of the conflict should prompt an international response.

    “If there is a problem between the two communities, it should mobilize the international community to intervene quickly to reestablish security,” he said. “It is quite like Mali.”

    The United Nations' office for CAR (BINUCA) says it is dispatching a team to Bossangoa to document human-rights violations in the area.

    The U.N. special representative for the country, Babacar Gaye, tells VOA the office will support any initiative to help bring the communities back to a place of peace.

    “My feeling is that the day we return to normalcy, it may take some time, but I’m sure that they will return in that regard to the previous situation," said Gaye.

    The African Union has approved a new 3,600-soldier peacekeeping force for CAR, to augment the current peacekeeping mission known as MICOPAX.

    Meantime, Seleka’s leaders have promised to push through a political transition that should see new elections within 18 months.

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora