News / Africa

Muslims Under Threat in CAR

Muslims Under Threat in CARi
February 13, 2014 4:05 PM
The United Nations and international human rights groups say militias in the Central African Republic, known as the anti-Balaka, are carrying out an "ethnic cleansing" of the country's Muslim minority. Muslims are being targeted as payback for abuses committed by the recently ousted Seleka rebel coalition. VOA's Anne Look was in the western town of Boali, where Muslim residents have been living in a church for protection for the past month.
Muslims Under Threat in CAR
Anne Look
The United Nations and international human rights groups say militias in the Central African Republic, known as the anti-Balaka, are carrying out an "ethnic cleansing" of the country's Muslim minority. Muslims are being targeted as payback for abuses committed by the recently ousted Seleka rebel coalition. Muslim residents in the western town of Boali have been living in a church for protection for the past month.

About 500 Muslims are living at one Catholic church in Boali. Many have lost everything. They are getting little to no assistance.  

Ibrahim Mohamed was in Boyali, a town further northwest, when the anti-Balaka attacked on January 8.

"They had guns and grenades. We tried to fight back. All we had were bows and arrows. We called Seleka for help and fled into the bush. When Seleka got there, we came out and saw all the dead. The anti-Balaka killed my father, who was the village chief, my two wives and four of my children," said Mohamed.

  • A woman reacts near the dead body of her sister who was killed during one of the latest incidents of sectarian violence in the 5th Arrondissement of the capital Bangui February 9, 2014. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola
  • Christians loot a mosque in Bangui December 10, 2013. REUTERS/Emmanuel Braun
  • A mother holds her child while attempting to take cover as repeated gun shots are heard close to Miskine district during continuing sectarian violence in the capital Bangui, Central African Republic, Jan. 28, 2014.
  • A man prays while reading verses from the Koran in a hangar at the airport of the capital Bangui January 30, 2014. The hangar is used to shelter internally displaced Muslims fleeing the continuing sectarian violence and those waiting to be evacuated by ai
  • Newly parliamentary-elected interim President of the Central African Republic Catherine Samba-Panza walks into the National Assembly prior to her swearing-in ceremony in the capital Bangui January 23, 2014. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola
  • French troops of the Sangaris Operation speak to a member of the Anti-Balaka Christian militia who handed over his arms in Bangui on January 25, 2014. The new president of the Central African Republic Catherine Samba Panza set to work to choose members of
  • A terrified woman walks down from the bush in the hills 15 Kms (10 miles) outside Bangui, Central African Republic, Friday Jan. 24, 2014, as Rwandan troops tell her to calm down during a weapons search operation. No weapons were found. Christian militiam
  • Two women mourn, Feb. 9, 2014, in Bangui the death of two relatives killed in the 5th district, one the of the city's central neighborhoods.
  • An Anti-balaka militiaman poses for a photograph in the capital of the Central African Republic Bangui January 14, 2014. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola
  • Christian refugees living in makeshift shelters near the airport in Bangui, Central African Republic, Tuesday Jan. 28, 2014, as they try to escape from the deepening divisions between the country's Muslim minority and Christian majority. Christian refug
  • Amandine, 7, who found refuge in the Mbaiki cathedral, in Mbaiki, some 120kms (75 miles) south west of bangui, Central African Republic, sits on the ground, Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014. Amandine, who lost both parents five years ago, cannot speak nor walk. She
  • At PK12 Chadian troops escort thousands of Muslim residents from Bangui and Mbaiki, fleeing the Central African Republic capital Bangui in a mass exodus using cars, pickups, trucks, lorries and motorcycles on Friday Feb. 7, 2014.
  • A woman runs for cover as heavy gunfire erupts in the Miskin district of Bangui, Central African Republic, Feb. 3, 2014.

Seleka's nine-month rule has ended and throughout the west and in the capital, the anti-Balaka have been seeking revenge for those months of killing, looting and destruction.

It was on January 17 that international troops pushed Seleka out of Boali. The anti-Balaka and local residents turned on the Muslims. Those that could, fled.

Abbot Xavier-Arnaud Fagba went out, door to door, bringing the rest to his parish. "I didn't have a plan. I was just thinking here are brothers in difficulty. They needed help. I went to get them as a pastor and as a Christian. I did it in the name of my faith."

The anti-Balaka tried to attack the church on February 4. Congolese troops fought them off and are guarding the compound.

Mohamed Mouctar said the anti-Balaka grabbed him in the market just two weeks ago. He escaped, but now won't leave the church.    

"The anti-Balaka, they tied me up here with rope. Both sides. And my feet as well as behind my back…They are still of a mind to do bad things to Muslims," said Mouctar.

This Muslim neighborhood in Boali sits empty, looted.

A resident from across the way, Guy Blaise Zaze, said the people who lived here collaborated with Seleka. "Before we all worked together, we laughed together. But when Seleka came to Boali, they changed completely. The smallest thing and they got their weapon. The smallest thing and they just wanted to kill Christians."

Locals say that anger continues to simmer.

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Comment Sorting
by: Caliboi Okpara from: Abuja Nigeria
February 14, 2014 6:16 AM
This is the beginning of the war for those who love it. A day shall come when muslim will no longer like violence. Nigeria muslim members, don't forget to lean a lesson in what is going on in Centre African Republic (CAR).

by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City
February 14, 2014 5:07 AM
Violence is is breeding ground for violences. You cannot bring about peace, when one group people are trying to do ethnic cleaning. There is no way that you can get rid of certain group people. Is not going to happen. read history, all you are doing is creating animosity for generations to come. We saw that Hitler and my Jewish friends, we saw that in Liberia, we saw that in somalia, and so fro. once again it time for the people of CAR to come together and bring about peace and stability in their country. The bottom line is, the people of CAR need to working together for the development of their own country. CAR is for the citizens of CAR, be it Muslims or Christians. The people of CAR need to face that fact. God Bless CAR

by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City
February 14, 2014 1:52 AM
I don't condom Muslims killing Christians, I am a born again believer,saved by the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. Jesus is my Lord and savior. My thing is this, enough is enough. enough of the killing in Africa. And as a Christians we have to forgive. VOA, BBC, FACEBOOK and RT NEWS,all these media can vice for me that I am a strong supporter of Israel, and being a Christian, I don't support Muslims, Let us be clear here. what I am saying is this, it is time for the killing to stop. we are the same Africans be it Muslims or not. When Master Jesus was on the face of the earth, He taught forgiveness, Love your enemies. Do good to them that hate you.We as a Christians, need our light shine. War is not the remedy to end war. war increase violence. Like I say Madam Catherine needs to do more to bring peace in CAR. We don't want no more blood shed. Madam Catherine needs to call upon some of her African colleague, so that they can setup an African peace enforcement that will create a buffer zone, and let there be a free movement of the citizens of CAR, Be it Christians or Muslims. War brings about destruction in every country. It is not the solution to peace. God Bless CAR

by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
February 13, 2014 9:34 PM
I admit the freedom of faiths but totally dissent to kill any others just because of difference of faiths. I guess religious revolution is now needed for Muslims to abandon the teachings of Jihad.

by: chi edung
February 13, 2014 9:57 AM
Muslims should stop their aggression attitude towards other groups,
or else i don't see them lasting any longer in any society.

by: Ali baba from: new york
February 13, 2014 9:55 AM
it is too bad for Muslim in central Africa. the Egyptian Islamic group might send jihadist to start a civil war . nobody is talking about Syrian Christian whom are slaughtering like a sheep by Muslim fanatic rebel. .once it happen to Muslim, all the heart is broken and call to save them .it looks to me Christian blood is worthless . we have to save Muslim and let our rebel Muslim fanatic kill Christian .Is that is okay

by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City
February 13, 2014 2:49 AM
Madam Catherine needs to create a buffer zone between the Muslims and Christians, and with in that buffer zone, there have to be a peace committee that will bring both parties together. Madam Catherine needs more to do, to bring about lasting peace. Those people are all citizens of CAR, they speak the same language. So Madam Catherine is not only president for the Christian, No. She is president for everybody. Be it Christians or Muslim. It is time for the people of CAR to put religion aside, let them find a common ground that will bring about lasting peace. It is my prayer that God heal your Land. God Bless Africa

by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City
February 13, 2014 2:16 AM
The people of CAR need to understand that they are the same people, whether you are Christian or Muslim. Stop the killing,stop the fighting. Violence is not the remedy for peace. The people of CAR need to learn from the war in Liberia and Somalia. This is not conducive for the youth of CAR. The Christian need to stop killing the Muslim, likewise the Muslim need to stop also. The Christian need to forgive the Muslim. Enough id enough. your need to come together, CAR is for both Muslims and Christians. United we stand, divided we fall. So the people of CAR need to find a common ground.

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