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ICC Note: Religious leaders across the Central African Republic (CAR) are working quickly on a plan to defuse tensions after some Christians have accused Muslims of joining with a rebel group called Seleka in violent attacks on Christian villages. Christians make up about half of CAR’s population, while Muslims make up 15%. Protestant, Catholic, and Islamic leaders are currently in talks to ease tensions less mass violence break out between Christian and Islamic communities. 
6/21/2013 Central African Republic (WWM) – As a significant risk of interfaith conflict looms over the Central African Republic (CAR), the leaders of the two main religions in the country – Christianity and Islam – have decided to speak with one voice.
The CAR was plunged into chaos after a rebel coalition called Séléka overthrew the regime of François Bozizé in March, forcing him to flee the country.
Numerous acts of violence perpetrated by members of the rebellion have created a climate of tension between Christians, who make up nearly half of a population estimated at around 4.6 million, and Muslims, who comprise 15%.
The two religious communities have coexisted previously without many problems, with a strong Muslim presence in the north and Christians dominating the south.
But now the Christian community is claiming some of its Muslim neighbours have becomes accomplices to Séléka’s acts of violence, which are said to include mass murder, looting, theft and the destruction of property. Christians say they feel particularly targeted.
“We have started dialogue between Muslims, Catholics and Protestants to calm the situation down, otherwise this country is likely to explode,” the Bishop of Bangassou, Juan José Aguirre Munos, told the Catholic Fides Agency.
“We are offering an opportunity for dialogue so that the life of the population can be brought back to normal. Since some Muslims have been accused of complying [with Séléka’s violence], we are trying to avoid further violence and revenge that would complicate an already very confusing situation.”
The Catholic clergy in the country sent a letter to the rebel leader-turned President of the CAR in April.
In the letter, titled ‘No more things like that… Standing up against impunity’, the Church implored Michel Djotodia to break his silence against Séléka’s members for acts of violence including rape, looting, extortion and robbery, and to explain the existence of an earlier letter written by Djotodia that showed his desire to turn the CAR into an Islamic republic.
In an attempt to defuse the situation, the new head of state met separately with the different religious leaders last month and assured them that there will be no “Islamisation” of the CAR. He also urged them to live together in peace.
Catholic, Protestant and Muslim leaders met on June 10-11, under the auspices of the international NGO Mercy Corps, and agreed to act together in order to find a solution to the growing unrest.

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