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

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid