Priests in the Central African Republic have recently attempted to save Muslims from slaughter at the hands of Anti-balaka militia forces, according to new reports from the Voice of America and Human Rights Watch.
The atrocities committed by Anti-balaka forces follow in the wake of
similar actions committed by the Islamist Séléka forces that helped
bring Michel Djotodia to power in March 2013.
“The widespread atrocities committed over the past 10 months by the
mostly Muslim Séléka rebel group are at the root of the current violence
in the Central African Republic,” Human Rights Watch reported.
“carried out a campaign of executions, indiscriminate killings, village
burnings, and rape that plunged the country into chaos and displaced
nearly a quarter of the country's majority Christian population.”
Following the arrival of French and African Union troops, Djotodia
resigned and went into exile in January, and Séléka fighters retreated
to bases. Anti-balaka, originally a network of self-defense militias,
has been taking vengeance upon Muslims.
In Boali, a town of 9,000 in the southwestern part of the nation, 500
Muslims are now living at the Catholic parish, according to Voice of
“I didn't have a plan,” said Father Xavier-Arnaud Fagba. “I was just
thinking here are brothers in difficulty. They needed help. I went [door
to door] to get them as a pastor and as a Christian. I did it in the
name of my faith.”
In Boda, a town in the southwestern portion of the nation, “the local
Catholic priest also attempted to prevent an attack on the Muslim
community,” according to Human Rights Watch.
The nation’s leading prelate has denounced Anti-balaka’s activities and
has made clear that it is not Christian, even though it is often
described as Christian in Western media reports.
In addition, the
nation’s bishops have urged Christians not to take revenge upon Muslims.