“… As a Muslim I believe this latest tragedy sends us a message we must not ignore, whether we are in Africa, Asia or here in North America. The problems we Muslims face are the making of our poor political and religious leadership. If we wish to join the rest of humanity, we need to get rid of those who now hold our reins. We need to free ourselves from bondage. If we don’t, the Central African Republic will not be the last tragedy we will face.”
The Toronto Sun
“This has become a country where people are not just killed, they are tortured, mutilated, burned and dismembered … Children have been decapitated, and we know of at least four cases where the killers have eaten the flesh of their victims.”
Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, was describing conditions in the Central African Republic (CAR), where the country’s entire minority Muslim population faces either death or expulsion at the hands of the Christian majority.
According to Amnesty International, the troubles in CAR began when the Muslim “Seleka” militia started a murderous rampage in the northeast of the country.
It then seized the capital of Bangui in March, 2013, ousting president Francois Bozize, a Christian, and replacing him with a Muslim, Michel Djotodia.
Amnesty reports that over the next 10 months, the mainly Muslim militia killed countless Christian civilians, burned numerous villages and looted thousands of homes.
To fight the Seleka troops, the Christian population organized their own militias and started carrying out reprisal raids on Muslim neighbourhoods.
By November, 2013, violence reached such levels, the UN warned CAR was at risk of spiraling into genocide.
Unable to hold on to power, on January 10 of this year, Djotodia resigned and fled the country.
With him gone, the tide turned against the Muslim militia, resulting in an unprecedented orgy of reprisal revenge attacks on Muslims across the country that have not stopped.
The Associated Press reported thousands of Muslims who tried to flee the sectarian violence in Bangui were turned back by peacekeepers as crowds of angry Christians shouted, “we’re going to kill you all.” As Muslims tried to flee to neighbouring Chad and Cameroon, Reuters reported Christian militias were blocking the main roads used by Muslim civilians and attacking the refugees.
According to Amnesty, the stated goal of the Christian militias is now to rid the country of Muslims forever. And as the world looks on, the killing continues. At this rate, CAR will be Muslim-free in a matter of months.
The killings come at a time when the world is observing the twentieth anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide.
Canadian Sen. Romeo Dallaire, who witnessed the 1994 genocide in Rwanda as a UN peacekeeper, says, “Let’s not divorce what’s happening in the Central African Republic with what happened 20 years ago in Rwanda.” In an interview with the Guardian, he said, “We’ve actually established a damn pecking order and the sub-Saharan black African — yes we’re interested but it just doesn’t count enough to spill our blood, to get embroiled in something complex that will need longer-term stability and influence.”
For Muslims around the world, witnessing yet another Muslim community suffering mass murder, and so soon after the killings in Myanmar, it’s traumatic. It’s easy to start believing in conspiracy theories and to become addicted to victimhood.
However, as a Muslim I believe this latest tragedy sends us a message we must not ignore, whether we are in Africa, Asia or here in North America.
The problems we Muslims face are the making of our poor political and religious leadership.
If we wish to join the rest of humanity, we need to get rid of those who now hold our reins. We need to free ourselves from bondage. If we don’t, the Central African Republic will not be the last tragedy we will face.