News / Africa

CAR President Vows Protection for Muslims

Parliamentary-elected interim President of the Central African Republic Catherine Samba-Panza gives a speech to residents and members of the media at the monastery in Boy Rabe district in the capital Bangui, Feb. 1, 2014.
Parliamentary-elected interim President of the Central African Republic Catherine Samba-Panza gives a speech to residents and members of the media at the monastery in Boy Rabe district in the capital Bangui, Feb. 1, 2014.
Nick Long
The new president of the Central African Republic, Catherine Samba-Panza, has promised that starting next week, the country’s security forces will be re-organized to protect Muslims as well as Christians.

The interim president made the announcement Saturday at several sites for displaced people including the central mosque in Bangui, where hundreds of Muslims have taken refuge from the violence in their part of the city.

Muslims are a minority of the CAR’s population, perhaps about 15 percent. Since last year when a largely Muslim rebel group, the Seleka, seized power, and then gradually lost power, the fellow Muslims have been in increasing danger.

Her visit to a mosque on Saturday was the first time that Samba-Panza, who is a Christian, has met a large Muslim crowd since she was elected president last month. It marked an important test of her appeal to Muslims.

The visit was nearly called off in the morning when an anti-Muslim gang burned a house near the mosque and tried to lynch a Muslim, but the president finally arrived there with a heavily armed escort of Rwandan peacekeepers.

Unlike at the other sites the president had visited, there was no cheering as she shook hands with waiting dignitaries, but she managed to break the ice with a unifying address partly in Arabic, the only language many Muslims here understand.

She told the crowd she deplores the fact that many people who have lived in the Central African Republic a long time have now been forced to flee to Chad or to the northeast of the country. This is against the principles on which the nation was built, she says, as expressed in its motto - Unity, Dignity and Work.

Tens of thousands of CAR’s Muslim population have been forced into exile or forced to return to their home countries, while in Bangui and across the west of the CAR frightened communities are under attack by the so-called anti-Balaka militia. Many are anxiously waiting for trucks to get through that might yet take them to safety.

The Chadian government has taken a lead in evacuating Muslims from the CAR - aid agencies are reluctant to organize wholesale departures because it could be seen as facilitating ethnic cleansing.

Security forces in the CAR were routed by Seleka rebels last year and, only recently, have begun to reassemble.

Samba Panza reiterated her call for militias to lay down their arms, but had a conciliatory message for some militia members.

"Not all the Seleka militia are bandits," she said, "and not all the anti-Balaka militia are bandits either, but they must guard against being manipulated."

She added that starting Monday the security forces - army, police and gendarmerie - will be rearmed so that they can protect the whole population, in collaboration with international peacekeepers.

Meanwhile African Union and French peacekeepers have re-established their presence at the town of Sibut, 150 kilometers north of Bangui, where hundreds of Seleka fighters had set up a base. It is not clear whether the Seleka have left the town, but it seems they did not take on the international forces.

You May Like

India PM Modi's Party Distances Itself From Religious Conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Godwin from: Nigeria
February 02, 2014 12:46 PM
In islamic countries of the world, non-adherents to islam have no rights to live. They are treated worse than animals in the farms, much less than the pet animals. In a country like Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia etc, the life of humans who do not practice islam is worth below a chick, a duck that if a muslim kills one, the muslim just pays a little damage to the [owner] of the person killed, or goes to jail for a minimum jail term - sometimes 26 days only. The non-adherent has no right to job, employment or amenities; they have partial voting right - to vote but cannot be voted for. Here in Central Africa Republic, a little taste of their own cookies is served them and the world gathers to denounce it. If it is wrong to kill a muslim in CAR, it is also a criminal offense to deny rights of other citizens in predominantly muslim countries of the Middle East, Asia and North Africa where the practice of dehumanizing citizens because they do not practice islam is the order of the day. If it is wrong to kill a muslim in CAR, it is wrong to kill a Christian in Egypt, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, Bahrain, Qatar etc., where you are not even allowed to visit with your copy of the Christian Holy Book, the bible. If the world is talking about the wrong to denial of human rights of muslims - just in CAR - the world should speak out about the mega denial of fundamental human rights of citizens of so-called islamic countries too. What is good for the goose is also good for the gander.


by: Anonymous
February 02, 2014 1:49 AM
Pres.Carthrine should please try to bring this conflicts to an end so that their country should move forward .Also she should arrest ring leader of the Barstard antibalaka militias not they are Brothers and Sister in Christianity 'no side rule the country.


by: Kamara Mohammed M. from: Monrovia,Liberia
February 01, 2014 3:33 PM
Pls African brothers & sisters, let us live together as one,we all are one family ,living in one world,having same the value as human,if we don't live together hamonsiouly,it means that we will perrish as flood.

In Response

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
February 02, 2014 1:06 PM
It is good to make this call when muslims are at the receiving end. It will have more serious meaning when we hear it from the Middle East and Asia where islam is holding sway; it should sound out in Nigeria where muslim militants are killing people in scores daily; it should be heard in the Middle East where muslim terrorists want to eliminate every trace of civilization and things that are not islamic. Let this voice that wants peace in CAR and Africa say so to the muslims concerning Israel. Then and only then can I know that muslims also love peace. Not just now because muslims are being killed. It is when they think before they act if a child draws a cartoon in the internet and name it one of muslims specials. It is good to hear peace, but let some muslim condemn some of the outrageous islamist forays like (suicide) bombings here and there in neighborhoods that are not islamic.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid