Rebels take over Central African Republic; Christians targeted

April 6, 2013 by  
Filed under newsletter-asia

Church buildings have been attacked and the homes of Christians looted in the aftermath of a bloody coup by a band of Muslim rebels in the Central African Republic (CAR).

President François Bozizé was ousted by the rebel coup

President François Bozizé was ousted by the rebel coup

Africa, April 03, 2013: The Seleka rebels seized control of the country on 24 March following a three-month uprising. Their leader, Michel Djotodia, has assumed the presidency from the ousted François Bozizé, becoming the predominantly Christian nation’s first Muslim president.

Days of chaos and looting followed the takeover, with Christian property being targeted by the rebels, while that belonging to Muslims was spared.

A senior church leader said that the rebels destroyed a number of church buildings when they entered the south-eastern town of Bangassou. The house of a seminary rector was robbed and destroyed, and a mechanic severely beaten when he would not reveal where church-owned vehicles were kept. A Baptist church in Bambari was also destroyed.

A Christian in the capital Bangui said:

We are no longer at home. They pillage our goods which are then sold by the Muslims who export them.

ISLAMIST TAKEOVER?

The rebellion spread from the north, where CAR’s Muslim minority is concentrated, and has had a militant Islamic character. The Seleka rebels are said to follow Wahhabism, an extreme and puritanical version of Islam that is practised in Saudi Arabia.

When Djotodia arrived at the Bangui mosque for Friday prayers following the takeover, Muslims chanted “Allahu Akbar” (“god is great”), the oft-used cry of militant Islamists.

One woman said, “They say, ‘It’s our turn now. We will make you pay’.”

Djotodia has insisted that CAR is a secular state and that he “must serve my country, all Central Africans” but admitted that “some people with bad intentions want to lead the country into inter-religious conflict”.

Christians, who comprise around 75% per cent of the population, and Muslims, who account for around 15%, have previously lived peaceably together.

CAR has had a succession of unstable, military governments since it gained independence in 1960. Ousted president Bozizé himself came to power in a coup ten years ago.

It is currently in a lawless state. On 25 March, Djotodia suspended the constitution, announced the dissolution of the National Assembly and said that he intends to rule by decree.

The violent takeover has been condemned by the African Union, the UN Security Council and the US.

– barnabas team

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