Friday, 28 February 2014

Central African Republic: Neighbor against neighbor

French President Francois Holland has made a quick stop in Central African Republic's capital Bangui to check in on French troops stationed there. His visit has no doubt boosted the troops' morale and provided a worthy photo op for many journalists. This despite the fact that most French people are against sending troops to CAR or Mali and Ivory Coast. While his visit is being broadcast by the media, Central Africans civilians are still scrambling from one refuge to the next. There are doubts among the government and citizens that French troops operating along with African Union troops could end the violence and ethnic cleansing against Muslims and Christians alike. CAR civilians awaiting for airlifts to Chad and Cameroon were in the shadows of Hollande's visit.

Centrafrique: Musulmans et Chrétiens dénoncent la manipulation du religieux par le politique Muslims & Christian denounce religious manipulations for political gains

Neighbor attacking neighbor for revenge 

Muslim civilians are being punished by Anti-Balaka rebels and their supporters for Seleka rebels' overthrow of Francois Bozize and Seleka rebels violence against Christians during the early days of the Bozize coup as they tried to establish their hold not only in Bangui but across the country. Now the Muslims are being targeted by the Anti-Balaka who have the upper hand after forcing the previous CAR president Mohammd Djortodia into exile. In suburbs around Bangui, the town of Bossanga and other towns, Central African Muslims of Chadian descendant and other backgrounds still regard CAR as their home and want to remain in the country. Even Central African truck drivers and traders who happen to be Muslim are not spared from the rebel forces' targeting. The drivers are halted by long queues at rebel checkpoints or ordered to wait until the next day to move their crucial products from Bangui to rural towns that rely on the truckers for their livelihoods. Muslims have been escaping ethnic cleansing and violence committed by their own Christian neighbors whom they known for years if not decades. Mosques, homes and people have been burned by rebel forces and their supporters to the horror of many Central Africans. A rebel named Mad Dog reportedly burned a Muslim bus passenger after dragging him off the bus and in a gruesome video posted online ate the man's leg similar to Syrian rebels eating the heart of a Syrian soldier. The bus passenger had done nothing to Mad dog and was simply on a trip to his specific destination. Gruesome revenge attacks against other Muslim Central Africans featuring large bystanders have been posted online. Christian neighbors who do not belong to any rebel forces or have any political affiliations have refused to allow the violence and hatred to dehumanize their Muslim neighbors. Many Christians have aided children and families as well as men from being harmed by rebel forces through hiding them in homes at churches and schools. It is worth noting that during the 1994 Rwandan Genocide that Rwandan Muslim protected their Christian neighbors and countrymen from rebel forces. Muslims were spared from the violence visited on their neighbors  regardless of religion. Rwandan troops make up a portion of the African Union troops. The Rwandans are all but familiar with the war and hell that is occurring during their operations. Nearly 1 million Central Africans have been displaced by the violence from both Anti-Balaka and Seleka rebels. Out of a population of 4 million people, 1 out of 4 Central Africans are either IDPs or refugees. Other Central Africans are hiding in forests without shelter or food.

Multireligious and multiethnic neighborhoods in Bangui, Bossonga and other towns are now segregated along religious lines as former neighbors part ways for safety outside their diverse communities. Some neighborhoods still have both Christian and Muslims living together defying both the hatred attempting tear Central African society into two halves. France even fears that CAR might be heading to a partition like Bosnia after Daytona Accords that created a Croat-Bosniak federation and a Serbian Republic. However, Central Africans themselves are not calling for no such partition. The Western media's "sectarianism" label reduces the complex origins that caused Central African Republic's current war and grievances. While praising ethnic and religious diversity for enriching society, United States and Western European countries forget or overlook the fact that diversity is not uniquely a Western invention. Pluralism and teaching respect for diversity is common in many African and Asian countries ie Malaysia, Singapore, India, Liberia and Senegal. Even Syrians and Iraqis both the wars, lived in pluralistic societies where even when religion or ethnic differences were emphasized, it didn't signal violent clashes between neighbors. People saw (still see) themselves as Iraqis or Syrians. Within families its the same. No one would attack their aunt for belonging to a different religion or ethnic group as the US paints CAR or Syria and Iraq as though sectarianism is ingrained in society. Christian leaders and elders have condemned rebel forces using religious identity to further their aims and create a permanent state of fear. Muslims have also distinguished between their neighbors who have protected them from harms way and vice versea for Christians who were protected by Muslims. The Chadians who are now refugees within Chad and Cameroon do plan to return to their homes in CAR eventually when the chaos dies down and the situation stabilizes.

Central African Republic: On Brink of Genocide Press TV In Focus

لقاء خاص إبادة وتطهير لمسلمي أفريقيا الوسطي  

A discussion on ethnic cleansing and violence against Central African Muslims on an Arabic language channel. The discussion also extends to violence against Muslims living across Africa and Asia

Revenge attacks between neighbors also occurred in Libya during the 2011 war when Misrata and Benghazi rebel forces uprooted and later carried out ethnic cleansing against their own fellow Libyans in Tarwegha and Benghazi. All for having dark skin and wrongly accused of being African mercenaries fighting on behalf of the late Libyan leader Maumar Gaddhafi.

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