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Muslims Flee Central African Republic’s Capital


When conflict first broke out  in C.A.R. last March, many, especially Islamophobes characterized the Seleka rebels as motivated by religion, when in fact their grievances and motivations were political and economic. A simplistic narrative of crazed, fanatical Islamic fighters attacking and killing poor, defenseless Christians was broadcast wide and far.

As innocent Muslims are killed, injured and forced into exile and mosques are destroyed the same media has been conspicuously silent. Part of the reason is that what happens in Africa, especially below the Sahara is of no consequence to them, for instance how often do we hear of the over decade long war in the Congo in which over 6 million souls have died?

Muslims Flee Central African Republic’s Capital


Thousands of Muslims climbed aboard trucks protected by heavily armed Chadian soldiers in a mass exodus Friday from the capital of Central African Republic. Their flight follows months of escalating attacks on anyone perceived as supporting a now-defunct Muslim rebel government blamed for scores of atrocities during its rule of this predominantly Christian country.

In The Hague, Netherlands, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court announced a preliminary investigation into potential war crimes or crimes against humanity in Central African Republic, saying the crisis has “gone from bad to worse” since September.

Along the streets of Bangui, crowds of Christians gathered to cheer the convoy’s departure for the neighboring country of Chad, which is mostly Muslim. It was an acrid farewell to their Muslim neighbors who had in some cases lived alongside Christians for generations here and have few ties to Chad.

The dangers for those who stayed behind were clear: One man who tumbled from the precariously overloaded trucks was brutally slain, witnesses said.

“He didn’t even have the time to fall — he landed into the hands of the angry mob who then lynched him at the scene,” said Armando Yanguendji, a resident of the Gobongo district who witnessed the horror.

Another truck in the same neighborhood escaped attack from Christian militiamen only when Burundian peacekeepers fired into the air to disperse the crowd trying to assault the convoy, he said. Some trucks broke down even before they could leave Bangui on Friday and had to be abandoned. The passengers jumped aboard other trucks, facing constant jeering, threats and stone-throwing from the spectators.

“The Christians say the Muslims must go back where they came from — that’s why we are going home,” said Osmani Benui as she fled Bangui. “We couldn’t stay here because we had no protection.”

They did have protection as they departed. Chadian special forces went along as well as Seleka rebels in cars, armed with pistols and AK-47s. The convoy of some 500 cars, trucks and motorcycles strained under the weight of people’s belongings.

The aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres, or Doctors Without Borders, said Friday that tens of thousands of Muslims have now fled to Chad and Cameroon. The U.N. refugee agency said that almost 9,000 people have fled to Cameroon in the last 10 days, bringing the number of refugees in Cameroon to 22,000 since current began.

“It really is a horrific situation. All over Bangui, entire Muslim neighborhoods are being destroyed and emptied,” said Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director for Human Rights Watch, who has gotten trapped Muslims to safety under the guard of peacekeepers.

“Their buildings are being destroyed and being taken apart, brick by brick, roof by roof, to wipe out any sign of their once existence in this country,” he added.

Hundreds sought refuge at a mosque in Bangui’s predominantly Muslim PK5 neighborhood.

But the dangers are not limited to the capital. Entire communities remain trapped in parts of northwest Central African Republic, according to the Medecins Sans Frontieres statement. A Muslim community of more than 8,000 people in Bouar “remains effectively imprisoned, unable to flee the violence.”

“We are concerned about the fate of these communities trapped in their villages, surrounded by anti-Balaka groups, and also about the fact that many Muslim families are being forced into exile to survive,” said Martine Flokstra, MSF emergency coordinator.

U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said that nearly 840,000 people remain displaced inside the country, and “with no immediate prospect to return home as the rainy season begins, the refugee agency fears a worsening crisis.”

The U.N. refugee agency warned of a high risk of cholera and other public health problems, particularly in Bangui, where more than 413,000 people still live in makeshift sites.

In announcing the International Criminal Court’s preliminary investigation, prosecutor Fatou Bensouda cited reports of “hundreds of killings, acts of rape and sexual slavery, destruction of property, pillaging, torture, forced displacement and recruitment and use of children in hostilities.” She added that “in many incidents, victims appear to have been deliberately targeted on religious grounds.”

The ICC is the world’s permanent war crimes tribunal, established in 2002 to investigate and punish atrocities when member states are unwilling or unable to do so themselves. Central African Republic is a member.

Although most of Central African Republic’s roughly 4.6 million citizens are Christian, there is a sizeable Muslim population in its north near the borders with Sudan and Chad.

Fighting in the country has worsened since last March, when an alliance of Muslim rebel groups from the north united to overthrow the president of a decade.

Although their grievances were political and economic — not religious — fighting has taken on an increasingly sectarian tone since then.

The rebels, known as Seleka, were aided by Chadian and Sudanese mercenaries. They quickly became despised by Christians in the capital after the fighters went on looting sprees, raping and killing civilians at random. An armed Christian movement known as the anti-Balaka, aided by loyalists of ousted President Francois Bozize, began retaliating several months later.

Christian fighters attempted to overthrow the Muslim rebel government in early December, sparking unprecedented bloodshed that left more than 1,000 people dead in a matter of days. An untold number have died in the weeks that followed, with most of the attacks in Bangui targeting Muslims.

The Muslim rebel leader who took power last March has stepped aside, and the country is currently being led by former Bangui Mayor Catherine Samba-Panza as interim president.

In recent weeks, angry mobs have set fire to mosques and have brutally killed and mutilated Muslims. On Wednesday, one Muslim suspected of having aided last year’s rebellion was attacked for 15 minutes with knives, bricks and feet by army soldiers shortly after Samba-Panza had left the scene. Men in uniform then paraded his body through the streets before it was dismembered and set ablaze.

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  • Friend of Bosnia

    A very good question. To which I can only answer: none that I’m aware of; which is a pity, as I can only go by the comments I read and I can’t say if tehy represent only a frimnge group or if a majority thinks like that. I think like in Nazi Germany, the number of genocidals is actually rather small, but the number of go-alongs is quite large.

    Based on the comments from Greater Serbo fascist lunatics I read on Balkaninsight, Al Jazeera etc.

    (and AJ is very bad in this respect because there comments are not moderated and people can spread the most horrible lies about those they consider their enemies; BI has a very strict non-insult policy for people who are against Greater Serb genocidals; they have banned me from posting because I called that Greater Serb TWERP “Jacob R.” what he is, a bastard, while he and others can openly spew about Bosniaks hate speech worthy of a Julius Streicher; as for me they can go to hell; on AJ, as before on BI this twerp actually told me that he enjoys provoking and infuriating me; I think I know what this individual would do in Bosnia if there is a new war and they give him an AK-47…)

    Of course I am aware that there is the Serb Helsinki Committee; there is Sonja Biserko; there is Cedomir Jovanovic, Natasa Kandic; there are the Women in Black and other groups who oppose Milosevic’s policies but then they were quantité négligéable. I don’t expect they have any much more weight now.

    Based on all the above I think that:

    About 35% of Serbs actually believe in ideas of Greater Serbia and in their entitlement to smite Muslims, because they have such religious or ideological convictions.

    About 20% don’t have particularly ill will against Muslims, but think they can make some profit; like during the war it was robbing their neighbors, raping their neighbors’ wives and daughters and taking their neighbor’s car or stereo at gunpoint; today when there are no open hostilities, appropriating or acquiring at bargain prices their land, houses, etc. or setting up some business in Bosnia with property that was taken from Muslims.

    Needless to say, among those who are convinced Bosniakophobes there are also profiteers; both groups overlap somewhat; but they all repeat to themselves those horrible propaganda lies about Bosniaks, because else they could not look at their faces in the mirror, nor their wives and children in the eyes, nor sleep at night.

    Another 20% have no sympathy for Bosnian Muslims just because they don’t know better. They don’t know anything about Bosiaks but are willing to believe all that Muslim-bashing tehy get on TV, and got at school when they were kids.

    About another 20% are indifferent and feel not concerned.

    5% of the Serbs actually have not resigned from the human race, and actually feel empathy for the suffering that was inflicted on their neighbors in the name of the Serb people, and distance themselves
    from it. Those are the people on the Serb side now showing the Bosnian protesters their solidarity.

    In short, I’m not sure what to make of Serbs: if I should hate them for their inhumanity, pity them for therir obtuseness, or laugh at their grotesqueness. Of course I do respect those who haven’t resigned from the human race, but these are, as I have said above, few and far in between.

    I know for sure that, under the appropriate circumstances, I’d be no more cruel to them than they have been. (Of course this would still involve a great degree of cruelty.)

    If only more people could be made to see that it is always a crime to dispossess or expel a people and that it can’t be justified by wrongs committed against the own people in the past.

    But I’m not holding my breath because evil outweighs good among Mankind. I am convinced that more people will go to Hell than to Heaven. I mean, if people believe the popular saying that “In Heaven you have the better climate, but in Hell the better company”…

    Well, it would be very necesary to make an opinion poll among Serbs in Serbia proper and in “repluka smrdska”. Who should do it, I can’t say. Gallup maybe. Much more interesting would be to know how many Bosnian Serbs still have an AK-47 in their closets, and how many would be willing to use it against Bosniaks again.

    And thank you very much for taking me in earnest. From teh Greater Serbo fascist twerps I only get slander and ridicule, insult and humiliation, and obtuse repetition of always the same propaganda lies and misrepresentations. Plus tehy smear me as a jihadist or some such.

    Whenever I come to Bosnia I avoid going to “repluka srpska” lest they beat me up or stab or shoot me, or something.

  • GaribaldiOfLoonwatch

    It’s true the UN has often proved to be incompetent and or ineffective/helpless.

  • GaribaldiOfLoonwatch

    How many Serbians actually want a ‘Greater Serbia’ anymore? I thought the defeat of Milosevic would’ve tempered such enthusiasts. Are you aware of any surveys or polling?

  • Friend of Bosnia

    Was it ever? Not much better than the League of Nations.
    “Never again”? hah, Again and again.

  • Friend of Bosnia

    Or war propagandists. I wonder how many of thesedr are psychopaths , or just paid or idealistically motivated (I mean tehre are fellows who genuniely love a Greater Serbia, for instance) but they’re all evil nevertheless.

  • Friend of Bosnia

    Yes, the comments by rabid islamophobes or rather by paid anti-Muslim war propagandists are always like that. see what those twerps have to say on Aljazeera.

  • GaribaldiOfLoonwatch

    Maybe the AU can do something but the UN doesn’t seem to be that effective at conflict resolution anymore.

  • GaribaldiOfLoonwatch

    Perhaps there should be an article there, just to document that fact but it might just be redundant, it’s probably common knowledge now that anything related to Islam and Muslims will immediately attract insane commenters frothing at the mouth.

  • golden izanagi

    I remember reading a story on yahoo about a mosque and orphanage in Myanmar being burned down and the comments I saw were just downright disgusting.

  • Talking_fish_head

    Unfortunately it doesn’t end their, websites like reddit, 4chan, facebook and others covering the conflict will always say that the conflict is due to Muslims massacring Christians and the Christians are just defending them selves.

    I don’t know enough about the conflict to decide who was right or wrong or who started this mess, but what I do know that the UN and AU should try to put a stop to this or we could see a repeat of Rwanda

  • GaribaldiOfLoonwatch

    I’ve noticed that Yahoo is amongst the worst, it’s almost like the comments sections there is made up entirely of HP type goons.

  • GaribaldiOfLoonwatch

    I think you misinterpret JD

  • GaribaldiOfLoonwatch

    I am not really up on my politics in the region as much but some of this must be fallout from the NATO unseating of Gaddafi in Libya.

  • GaribaldiOfLoonwatch

    That was horrific to witness.

  • Pingback: Muslims Flee Central African Republic’s Capital | Islamophobia Today eNewspaper()

  • Razainc_aka_BigBoss

    AlJazeera has done a story on this

    Deep divisions in the Central African Republic

  • Jahiliyyah – literally time of ignorance

  • Talking_fish_head

    Don’t worry, I never visit neo-nazi websites; If i wanted to rot my braincells I would watch TV

  • I was referring to Neo-Nazi websites that claim that the banning of Islam in Angola is True even though it is their reliable sources that say that it is not (the banning of the faith in its laws, not the individual mosque disputes). Even after finding out that the “truth” of the matter, they insist that their own reports of “truth” must be a cover up by muslims refusing to admit that a country was successful in legally banning Islam as a “violent cult” while their own reports went out of the way to say the opposite to justify their claims of whining muslim hyperbole.

    I do not encourage lawlessness in any fashion. I am quite a stickler in the opposite direction, ask anyone here.

    I do not intend to know everything. You are correct, only Allah knows everything. But it is improbable at best for a people to have committed fraud in an effort to conspire to cover up the honesty of the lie that they are themselves to have inspired , even if inadvertently, to spread.

    Hopefully Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu and his fact finding mission will relay more reliable info back after his visit.

  • Talking_fish_head

    Do your selves a favor and Don’t read the comments on that website or any news site for that matter, TBH, I’ve seen much nicer comments on Neo-nazi websites.

    You know we have devolved as a race when people are praising these kinds of acts and wish they are more wide spread.

  • Nur Alia binti Ahmad

    It seems you always come to change the topic when it looks bad for westerners and Christians.

  • mindy1

    This is truly sad and disturbing, like Rwanda all over again :'(

  • I wonder (I do not know but surmise) whether some of this is retaliation for the very unpopular decision by the Chad government to send troops into Somalia and cross border incursions by Al Shabaab or the AU using Chad as a staging ground for troop movements into the area?

    Could their world trade center event be a in the form of a strip mall concocted or not?

    These are real questions.

  • JD

    Freedom of Speech as long as its bashing
    someone from the “other group” we don’t like like the moslems

    Congress to Drop ‘BDS’ Bill Restricting Academic Freedom, Free Speech

    (WASHINGTON, D.C., 2/7/14) —
    Yesterday, an unconstitutional bill was introduced in Congress designed to
    limit academic freedom and the free speech rights of American universities and
    student groups participating in the campaign for boycotts, divestment and
    sanctions (BDS).

    CAIR is urging American Muslims and all others who value
    constitutional protections to contact their elected representatives and request
    that they oppose the bill.

    The BDS campaign seeks an end to
    Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, equality and justice for the Palestinian
    people and the right of return guaranteed Palestinian refugees by United
    Nations resolutions.

    Illinois Representatives Dan Lipinski (D) and Peter Roskam (R) introduced the
    misleadingly-titled Protect Academic Freedom Act (H.R. 4009), which would
    unconstitutionally block any American university from receiving any federal
    “funds or any other form of financial assistance,” if:

    “[The] institution, any
    significant part of the institution, or any organization significantly funded
    by the institution adopts a policy or resolution, issues a statement, or
    otherwise formally establishes the restriction of discourse, cooperation,
    exchange, or any other involvement with academic institutions or scholars on
    the basis of the connection of such institutions or such scholars to the State
    of Israel.”

    SEE: Protect Academic Freedom Act (H.R. 4009)

    The bill is said to be a response to the American Studies
    Association’s recent decision to participate in the international BDS
    movement by shunning Israeli academic institutions and scholars. Secretary of
    State John Kerry recently warned of more boycotts taking place if current
    Israeli-Palestinian peace talks fail.

    SEE: ASA Members Vote To Endorse Boycott of Israeli Academic

    “It is clearly unconstitutional for members of Congress to attempt to
    legislate against political viewpoints with which they disagree,” said
    CAIR Government Affairs Manager Robert McCaw. “The same peaceful
    method of political activism has been used to challenge injustice in America
    and worldwide, including against one of the greatest forms of injustice in our
    time — Apartheid.”

    McCaw noted that Americans have engaged in political boycotts since the
    nation’s founding. He cited the colonial American boycott of British tea
    imports and the Montgomery Bus Boycott during the civil rights era.

    “This bill would unlawfully limit the First Amendment free speech rights
    of American universities and student groups that decide to participate in the
    BDS movement,” said McCaw.

    Jewish groups have also gone on the record to criticize such legislation.

  • JD

    C. Africa crowd lynches fleeing Muslim: witnesses

    Bangui (Central African Republic)
    (AFP) – A mob lynched a Muslim on Friday after he fell off a crowded lorry
    driving thousands of frightened civilians out of the strife-torn capital of the
    Central African Republic.

    A large convoy of lorries and taxis
    packed with Muslims fleeing Christian vigilantes headed north from Bangui under
    a slew of insults from angry residents, locals said.

    The mob set on the victim after he
    fell off one of the lorries and hacked to pieces his body, which still lay by
    the side of the road by late morning, an AFP photographer saw.

    Armed Christian “anti-balaka”
    fighters tried to attack a second vehicle in the convoy, but they dispersed
    when troops from an African peacekeeping force, MISCA, fired warning shots.

    Muslim Central Africans and
    foreigners have been fleeing Bangui for several months to escape killings,
    looting and harassment by armed militias drawn from the Christian majority in
    the city, in defiance of calls for peace by religious leaders.

    The lynching comes just two days
    after uniformed Central African troops attacked a Muslim right after a military
    ceremony in Bangui, stabbing and stoning him to death.

    UN envoy to the CAR Boubacar Gaye
    condemned the climate of impunity that allowed “a man to be attacked in
    broad daylight and his body desecrated.”

    Defence Minister Thomas-Theophile
    Timangoa told the country’s transitional parliament Thursday that a probe had
    begun into the lynching and that human rights experts had been asked to help.

    ‘Left to fend for themselves

    Thousands of Muslims have been
    fleeing Bangui in fear for their lives as they face vengeance attacks from
    Christian militia in a spiralling cycle of religious violence.

    The violence was sparked after the
    Seleka rebel group installed Michel Djotodia as the country’s first Muslim
    president in a coup in March 2013.

    The following months saw rogue
    Seleka fighters unleash a wave of atrocities against Christians, prompting the
    emergence of “anti-balaka” (anti-machete) militia who began launching
    revenge attacks.

    In Geneva, UN refugee agency
    spokeswoman Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba said Friday that 8,762 people, have crossed
    into eastern Cameroon in the past 10 days alone, mainly Muslims “who say
    they feared for their safety”.

    While many Muslims try to flee
    Bangui, others seek safety near the capital, abandoning towns and villages in
    the provinces where they come under attack.

    Up to 4,000 Muslims have taken
    refuge at the Bangui airport, near the bases of French and African troops, and
    hope to leave the country in the next few weeks.

    French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le
    Drian, who is due in Bangui on February 12, said in an interview Thursday that
    an extension of the current UN mandate for France’s 1,600-strong contingent was

    New interim president Catherine
    Samba Panza — who took over in January after Djotodia was forced to resign —
    has asked the UN for a full-fledged peacekeeping operation.

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