Central African Republic has been out of the English speaking mainstream media for more than a year. In the French mainstream media, CAR is mentioned or footnoted in international news reports. Occasionally, the country has appeared on Africa Focus programs on France 24 or Sky News in English. A ceasefire has been in place in CAR or Centrafrique since late 2013 when hostilities between the Seleka and Anti-Balaka rebel groups were supposed to end a devastating war between them with civilian caught up in the violence. The Central African capital Bangui is slightly calm down from raging hostilities two years ago. However, the ethnic/religious cleansing of neighborhoods in Bangui and in smaller towns and villages across the country continue to this day. Using the language of sectarianism that was non existence until the coup in Central African Republic some 2 years ago, Christian rebels have taken opportunities to go on a revenge path towards their long standing Muslim neighbors. With all the sectarianism, chaos and the media over hyping the fear of terrorist attacks worldwide, CAR had avoided the Muslim vs Christian and other sectarian inspired violence between Muslim and Christian Central Africans throughout the decade and half war on terror. If the War on Terror can still be called such given the original culprit of September 11th, July 7th bombings are long dead. The horrific violence and brutality carried out by Boko Haram in Nigeria and Cameroon has raised neighboring countries' fears of an ISIS inspired chaos and terrorism at West Africa's doorstops.
The Legend of Timbuktu
Remember that West Africa has a long history of Islamic culture, heritage, traditions and legacy of educational achievements with Timbuktu serving as the height of university and indigenous African knowledge throughout the medieval era and exploration age in Africa. Islam in West Africa is nothing new. African Muslims across the continent including parts of North Africa are regarded as some of the more relaxed and liberal practicing Muslims. Killing anyone Muslim, Christian or practicing an indigenous religion through suicide bombing or IEDs that Boko Haram uses in Cameroon, was non existent in Nigeria, Cameroon and Somalia only a few years ago. It would be unthinkable and is widely condemned by ordinary Muslims. What is new is the irrational violence, extreme distortion and twisted interpretation of the Quran used to justify Boko Haram and ISIS' societal destruction of civilians and places being pulled under their control. Central African Republic is close to Nigeria. No doubt, CAR government and civilians recently recovering from a short civil war and sectarian jack in the box fear the reach of Boko Haram or any other terror group such as ISIS in the country and across West and Central Africa.
Centrafrique: Ou en est-on reconciliation?
Islamophobia has been rising in Central Africa as in Nigeria in response to Boko Haram and ISIS' terror. Despite being neighbors for decades and living in peace, CAR's religious diversity and secular government hasn't saved Central African Muslims from attacks by Christian terrorists who have bombed, killed and chased their own Muslim neighbors and fellow citizens out of their homes and villages. Attacks against Muslim families have emptied many villages and towns such as Bocaranga of nearly all its Muslim residents. Displaced Muslim refugees live on the outskirts of Bangui or in Chad, Nigeria and Niger which hosts hundreds of refugees from neighboring countries. Central African Muslims are now regarded as foreigners by their fellow Christian citizens because of their religion. Even with UN and African Union peacekeepers, Central Africa's citizens are still facing exoduses from their hometowns driven out by Christian rebels turned terrorists or harassed until they are forced to flee. UN Secretary Ban Ki Moon has condemned the violence against Muslims as well as Christians during earlier violence against Christians by both rebel groups. The Central African government also reiterated the importance of making the country safe for both faiths to live together as they did even after the Coup against Francois Bozize.