Reports of Christian persecution in the Central African Republic have risen dramatically since the country was taken over by a Muslim majority rebel group this past March. Many blame this development on the divisions that are beginning to grow between the Christian and Muslim communities in the Central African Republic. Please pray for the persecuted in this country and for peaceful dialogue to exist between Muslims and Christians as they continue to face this security crisis.
9/12/2013 Central African Republic (AllAfrica) – 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.