Rabat - Pope Francis visited on Monday a mosque in the Central African Republic (CAR), a country torn by strife between Christians and Muslims, urging Muslims and Christians to leave in peace and respect one another.
Rabat – Pope Francis visited on Monday a mosque in the Central African Republic (CAR), a country torn by strife between Christians and Muslims, urging Muslims and Christians to leave in peace and respect one another.
Under intense security, the pope sent a message of peace from a mosque in Koudoukou, in Bangui, a dangerous district controlled by a ring of so-called anti-balaka Christian militias, who block supplies from entering and Muslims from leaving.
“Christians and Muslims are brothers and sisters,” he said.
“Those who claim to believe in God must also be men and women of peace,” he said, noting that Christians, Muslims and followers of traditional religions had lived together in peace for many years.
Tidiani Moussa Naibi, the Imam of the mosque, one of the local religious leaders, greeted the Pope and called on both parties to end violence and live together in peace and security.
Addressing Muslims as “dear brothers and sisters”, Pope Francis said “It is a great joy for me to be with you and I thank you for your warm welcome,” adding that his Pastoral Visit, the last leg of a six-day African tour, to the Central African Republic would not be complete “if it did not include this encounter with the Muslim community.”
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 repression and are being forced to convert to Christianity under pain of death by anti-balaka Christian militias.