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Sunday, 16 February 2014

Christian Militias Persecuting Muslims? Archbishop warns of genocide in Central African Republic :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)

The Christian militias are not Christian: they have dissolved from self-defence into vengeance. If they think they are Christians, they should know that they have betrayed the Church of Syria, Iraq, Egypt and many other places where their brothers and sisters, at great cost, have "rendered unto no man evil for evil".

Many charitable agencies, news outlets, politicians and church leaders have drawn attention to the Church's plight across the world at the moment, as the persecution of the followers of Christ that made the 20th century the worst in the Church's history intensifies in the 21st. In fairness, we have to acknowledge a wholly unrepresentative part of our fellowship which has dismissed the appeals of its pastors and put on the mask of evil, rather than show to Muslim people the beauty of the face of Christ.

In the report that follows (continued at Catholic News Agency below), Archbishop Dieudonnè Nzapalainga of Bangui speaks the truth, praises the bold priests and lay people who are protecting the innocent and serving those in need regardless of race and faith, and recalls others to the path of light and goodness.

.- A Central African bishop has reported signs of genocide in the growing conflict there, urging an effective security response and warning against the “evil” desire to kill and destroy.

“If there is no one to hold back the hand of the devil here, he will achieve his goal. Many people will be hunted down and killed,” Archbishop Dieudonnè Nzapalainga of Bangui told Aid to the Church in Need Feb. 12.

He said he had visited a town called Bodango, about 125 miles from the capital of Bangui, where all of the Muslims – who are among those targeted in the conflict – have disappeared. Members of the Anti-Balaka militia told him the Muslims had been driven out, but the archbishop was skeptical, fearing instead that they had all been killed.

“That over 200 Muslims, along with all their children and old people could have walked 125 miles is impossible,” the archbishop said.

Violence broke out in the Central African Republic in December 2012. Seleka rebels, loosely organized groups that drew many Muslim fighters from other countries, ousted the president and installed their own leader in a March 2013 coup.

After international pressure and resistance from Anti-Balaka self-defense groups, that president stepped down in January 2014. Soon after, a national council elected as interim president Catherine Samba Panza, who has no ties to either group.

The Anti-Balaka militias now claim to be taking revenge for Muslim atrocities committed last year, though President Samba Panza has pledged to hunt them down.

Amnesty International has said militia attacks have caused a “Muslim exodus of historic proportions.” Tens of thousands have fled into Cameroon and Chad and many more are internally displaced. Their flight could add to the food crisis, as many shops and wholesalers were run by Muslims, the BBC reports.

Seleka rebels have also attacked the Christian population in the small town of Bohong, about 10 miles from the western town of Bouar.

“When I arrived there, part of one area of the town has been completely burned down. I also saw that people had been burnt alive. I saw human bones and human heads,” the archbishop said. “I had only ever seen that sort of thing in films about Rwanda before, but never here with us.

“I think that evil was there. Now the evil has touched us. It shows itself in the desire to kill, to destroy. This is the devil.”

There are presently 1.25 million people in need of food assistance.

While media sources have described the Anti-Balaka forces as a “Christian militia,” Archbishop Nzapalainga rejected this. He said that they are rather a “self-defense movement that has now left the politicians behind.”

Other bishops have rejected depictions of the fighting as divided solely along religious lines, noting that not all Anti-Balaka forces are Christians and not all Christians are Anti-Balaka. They have said the same applies to the Seleka forces and Muslims.

Amid the violence, there are also peacemakers. In the southwestern town of Boali, Father Xavier Fagba at St. Peter's Parish Church has sheltered about 650 Muslims since mid-January.

“Now is the time for men of good will to stand up and prove the strength and quality of their faith,” the priest told the BBC.

See the full report here:
Archbishop warns of genocide in Central African Republic :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)

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