It has come down to this for the muslim population in the war torn country of Central African Republic (C.A.R): LEAVE OR DIE!
Muslims here once lived freely among the Christian majority, running businesses and praying in mosques. Now, many of the
city’s Muslims have fled, and on Sunday about 1,300 Muslims from Bangui’s PK12 neighbourhood were evacuated to safety by peacekeeping forces.
Already one of the world’s poorest countries, CAR has seen a wave Crises and Violence in the past 15 months. The 10-month reign of the Muslim dominated Seleka rebel group inflamed intercommunal tensions in the country, and spurred the rise of Christian militias called the anti -Balaka.
Once the Seleka was forced out of power in January, the anti-Balaka rampaged, targeting Muslims across the country for their perceived support of the Seleka and its bloody excesses.
At the peak of the violence, mobs hunted down Muslims in mosques or pulled them out of taxis and butchered them in the street. In one incident, a group of soldiers listened to a speech from the newly installed interim president, Catherine Samba-Panza, then lynched a Muslim man and set his body on fire after it was over.
United Nations Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon dubbed the bloodshed “ethno- religious cleansing”.
The evacuation and fleeing of many of the muslims led to a series of looting. Looters descended on the PK-12 district they had left to strip houses and businesses, and even the mosque.
There was also an attack on a clinic in Northern C.A.R, in which three aid workers working for the medical charity organization, MSF were killed.
The crises in C.A.R have resulted to a “religious cleansing” according to human rights groups, with Muslims fleeing southern areas for the north, as well as neighbouring countries such as Chad and Cameroon.
Around a quarter of the country’s 4.6 million have been forced from their homes.
There are some 6,000 African Union and 2,000 French troops in CAR but they have failed to halt the bloodshed.
The UN Security Council has approved plans to deploy a force of around 12,000 but they are not expected for several months.