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Central African Republic: Muslims Forced to Convert to Christianity

The imam of the Sapeke mosque in Bangui, destroyed by an anti-balaka-led mob in April 2014. The mosque, which was leveled, has yet to be rebuilt; the imam is seeking funds to do so

Rabat – Following the 2013 Muslim-Seleka-led rebellion in the Central African Republic that toppled François Bozize, a Christian, who had come to power in 2003 through a military coup, the country has ever since been rocked by violence and bloody sectarian conflicts.

Since late 2013 and the massacre of early 2014, CAR Muslims have been facing torture and death by anti-balaka Christian militias.

Displaced children living in the Central Mosque in the PK5 Muslim enclave in Bangui, Central African Republic
©Amnesty International. Displaced children living in the Central Mosque in the PK5 Muslim enclave in Bangui, Central African Republic.

According to an Amnesty International report published on July 31, under the title “Erased identity: Muslims in ethnically cleansed areas of the Central African Republic,” Muslims in the CAR are facing repression and are being forced to convert to Christianity under pain of death.

The report said that Muslims are “barred by armed anti-balaka militia from practicing or manifesting their religion in public,” adding that Muslims who survived last year’s massacres are being threatened and “have been forcibly converted to Christianity on the threat of death.”

This isn't the Muslims' country, this is our country  graffiti written on the wall of a destroyed mosque in Carnot, Central African Republic
©Amnesty International. This isn’t the Muslims’ country, this is our country graffiti written on the wall of a destroyed mosque in Carnot, Central African Republic

“In areas where UN peacekeepers remain notable by their absence, Muslims are targeted with impunity,” Amnesty said.

According to UN reports, “anti-balaka militias raided Muslim homes, killing children and women, looting and vandalizing properties.”

The patriarch of the sole remaining Muslim family of a village in western Central African Republic
©Amnesty International. The patriarch of the sole remaining Muslim family of a village in western Central African Republic

The anti-balaka militias also destroyed mosques and Muslim places of worship in an attempt to erase all the signs of the Muslim community in the country.

Amid this chaos and insecurity, Muslims in the western part of the Central African Republic have no freedom to practice their religious rituals in public. They have been forced to hide their religion, or else face torture and death.

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