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Central African Republic – Religious Warfare

“If you are not gone by 8 o’clock tomorrow morning we will come back and shoot you and burn down the mission, You are making this a religious war”

This was the threat made by about a dozen armed fighters from the Muslim faction who rolled up to the Catholic mission in their technical. There were hundreds in the mission who sought refuge on humanitarian grounds.

Leave or die.

We often pay very little attention to what happens in Africa, I myself have never been but it holds a special place in my heart.

A very dear friend of mine died in the region doing field work when she was killed by a mob stampede during an aid distribution. She always loved Africa and the people and her heritage there and did everything in her life to try and help. On her last trip there she was hurting from a divorce and found a lovely young girl who she wanted to bring home and start a new family with but she died before she could come back.

Edwina Hawkings is still one of the biggest influences in my life and a reminder to always remember that we rarely pay attention to the issues in Africa.

Ismael Hadrajo is a leader of the rebel movement in the CAR and his anger at the mission is that it’s staff are harbouring and funding Christian Combatants.

BOUCA, Central African Republic (AP) — About a dozen Muslim armed fighters rolled up to the Catholic mission in their pickup truck and delivered an ominous message to the hundreds seeking refuge on church grounds: Leave the premises by morning or face death.

Ismael Hadjaro, a self-proclaimed colonel in a rebel movement that overthrew Central African Republic’s president earlier this year, accused the mission and its staff of harboring armed Christian combatants.

After a few phone calls the regional peacekeepers arrived to guard the mission with the Church claiming that they are there merely to protect and aid civilians displaced by the conflict. Most of them are women and children.

The conflict rages between the Muslim and Christian militias and there are fears that we are on the cusp of another Rwanda. A genocide caused by the excuse of religious conflict. Of lines drawn through people based on which version of Judaism 2.0 they wish to play.

Various peacekeepers are on the way. The African Union and the French are sending forces. The UN is planning to vote on the stability of the region.

Fresh clashes have started up in late November and a mass grave of 43 bodies was found by the Red Cross. This is the sort of mindset of hate and violence that existed prior to the massacres of Rwanda and many fear this may be another event. Hundreds of homes have been burned and widespread looting has forced families to flee to missions and refugee camps or even take shelter in fields and temporary camps.

Even Red Cross workers are not safe. The director of the Bouca Red Cross had his house burned down by Seleka Muslim fighters. And the worry is that the Christian Militia is growing. The anti-Balaka may be crudely armed but their rhetoric is polarising the Christians against the Muslims who have lived in peace for centuries. The Seleka maybe Muslim but the brunt of the anti-Islamic blow will land on the Muslims who live quietly and in peace.

And the cycle of hate continues. Many  anti-Balaka see themselves as victims. Christian men who’s wives and families were killed by Islamic forces who then take out such frustration on people similar to themselves. And the cycle continues. Muslims Fundies kill Christians, Christians become fundie to fight back and kill Muslims which creates more anger and hate and pain and revenge.

The fighting started in Bouca on September the 9th when Christian Militia attacked a Muslim neighbourhood and set it on fire. The reprisals resulted in massacres including attacks on aid workers. It was the deadliest day of violence with 115 deaths caused by the Seleka and 38 by the anti-Balaka massacres that took place. The spectre of war rape and child soldiers raises it’s ugly head again  as many fear the war will see a return to those terrible crimes.

The break down of society means that healthcare is absent as doctors and nurses fear to work. Malaria deaths are on the rise and basic diseases too.

A lot of work needs to be done and the fighting in Bouca is just a sliver of the reality of the violence that’s endemic to the Central African Republic. The living conditions of the refugees who are overcrowded into Christian and Muslim missions or schools or who are living in the bush have limited stocks of healthcare, food and water.

And like Rwanda there is fears that one side will cross the line and attack a refugee centre along faith lines and the reprisals will turn the CAR into a true blood bath.

Medicin Sans Frontier are out there right now doing some amazing work as are the Red Cross. But as always they desperately need money as they don’t accept national donations but individual ones. If you want to help them out check out the links.

That’s the tragedy. The lines drawn are between two groups whoo just believe in nearly the same Abrahamic religion. The real hate will destroy generations of peace. The difference is religion and soon that will be the driving force for the anger. I often said that Islamic fundies rely on turning the environment into a hell hole  in order to make  their world view seem rational and reasonable. Their fanning of the flames of sectarian violence will drive thousands of men to seek revenge through  the milita. First it will be revenge, then it will be their duty and then it will be their divine imperative.

How do you stop a war of revenge? How do you make one side forgive and recognise the real poisonous elements here?

Comments

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  2. thewhollynone says

    Religion is the excuse and the cohesive force for tribal warfare where there are too many people to be supported on too little land and resources. If the men, particularly the young men, have no meaningful and productive work to do, they default to fighting among themselves and sometimes great genocides occur. The Devil loves an economic vacuum.

    Of course, all the religions promote motherhood for females as they are trying to outbreed the competition, and primitive peoples see their females as nanny goats. It would be helpful if the Catholic Church would start supporting birth control and stop marginalizing females, but I doubt that will happen in my lifetime. Meanwhile I can’t be too sympathetic to Catholic missionaries who are just trying to pitch their particular brand of woo to ignorant and economically downtrodden Africans in order to maintain their market share. The Muslims are not much better and actually treat women worse. A plague on both their houses!

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