BANGUI – Muslim and Christian religious leaders in Central African Republic have sent a new call for calm in the strife-torn country, saying that militia men should disarm or be disarmed, Agence France Press (AFP) reported.
"Let all our brothers who are carrying weapons hand them over," Dieudonne Nzapalainga, the archbishop and imam of Bangui, said on Friday, February 21.
“The soldiers should disarm everyone, in churches and in mosques.”
Central Africa In Crisis (OnIslam Special)
Nzapalainga was speaking in a joint press conference with Bangui imam, Oumar Kobine Layama, held on Friday.
During their meeting, both leaders sent a joint appeal to stop the looting and sectarian violence that has displaced close to a quarter of CAR total population in a year.
Their appeal followed a call by the UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon's on Thursday for 3,000 extra troops to be dispatched to the country.
"Armed people have been infiltrating places of worship, including mosques," Layama said, urging the population to support international disarmament efforts.
The call of the two religious leaders is not the first since unrest erupted in CAR.
Yet, their appeals have gone largely unheeded in recent months as rights groups warned that ethnic cleansing against the Muslim minority was ongoing.
CAR, a mineral-rich, landlocked country, descended into anarchy in March of last year when Seleka rebels ousted François Bozize, a Christian, who had come to power in a 2003 coup.
Over the past weeks, anti-balaka Christian militias have raided Muslim homes killing children and women and looting and vandalizing properties.
Along with killing, kidnapping, torture and arbitrary arrest and detention, in the war-torn CAR, a UN investigation found evidences of sexual violence.
Two cases of cannibalism have been reported too, one of which appeared on the BBC, showing a Christian man chewing the flesh of a Muslim driver killed by Christian mobs.
The escalating violence forced thousands of terrified civilian Muslims to flee for their lives to escape killings, looting and harassment by armed militias drawn from the Christian majority in the city.
The violence is forcing thousands to flee the country, with the UN's refugee agency reporting that 28,000 had crossed in Cameroon alone since the start of February.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net - Read full article here
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