BANGUI – A Bangui mosque turned into a makeshift morgue on Thursday, December 12, after Muslims' mutilated bodies were lined up inside the mosque, adding to the anger of Central Africa Republic religious minority.
“Be patient. Islam is not an instrument of death," Imam Al Wassila Tidjani appealed for angry Muslims who were calling for revenge on Thursday, Agence France Presse (AFP) reported.
“One should not fight crime with more crime, it's a sin, it's not Islam.”
Crowds of angry Muslims have been seen standing outside the mosque, located at heart of the Muslim community in the Central African capital's busy PK-5 district.
But all of a sudden, a woman wearing a deep purple veil bumped into the crowds, and checking the dead bodies, she broke into tears when her eyes stopped on the bodies of her daughter and seven-year-old grand-daughter wrapped in white shrouds.
"They were on our plot when someone lobbed a grenade. My girl and her little one ran out of their home and were hacked to death," she said.
"We are going to start a jihad (holy war). I'm going to ask the imam for a jihad," the woman cried, to a chorus of bellicose cheering from a swelling crowd.
"They were innocent."
At least 400 have been killed and hundreds more injured since last Thursday when Christian militias, loyal to the CAR's ousted President Francois Bozize, launched multiple attacks from the north, according to the UN humanitarian office.
Violence ripped Central Africa Republic recently after President Michel Djotodia declared himself the country’s first Muslim leader after ousting President Bozize on March 24.
Taking the helms of power, Djotodia has struggled to rein in members of the now-dissolved Seleka group that swept him to power.
According to news reports, rogue former rebels turned warlords have set up little fiefdoms and sown terror in villages.
On the other hand, Christian militiamen, known as "anti-balaka", launched reprisal attacks against Muslims, killing scores and forcing thousands outside their villages.
Chanting anti-Muslim slogans, militia men, armed with machetes and clubs, have destroyed a large mosque in Bangui and set several nearby parked cars afire.
Destruction was not limited to Bangui mosque after witnesses confirmed that at least three other smaller mosques had also been attacked in Bangui last Tuesday.
Amid increasing sectarian violence, CAR Muslims accused the French troops, deployed by the United Nations, of assisting Christian militias.
"The French are organizing the genocide. They are with the Christians," one man screamed.
As a French patrol drove past the Ali Baboro mosque, the crowd of faithful waving their fists closed in on the vehicles and nearly swarmed them to a stop.
"Accomplices", "Traitors", "Come and see the bodies"!
French forces began an operation to disarm Seleka in Bangui on Monday but they have been unable to prevent widespread looting and attacks targeting the Muslim community.
There are about 2,500 troops in the African-led International Support Mission in the Central African Republic (MISCA) that will eventually reach 3,600 and on December 19 become an African Union force.
Former colonial power France has spearheaded efforts to stop the rot in a nation already among the world's poorest and now facing a humanitarian catastrophe.
After a UN resolution on Thursday, the French contingent increased its existence in Central Africa Republic to about 1,200 troops.
"It shouldn't be this way. The French are protecting the Christians but not us," said another man in the crowd.
“We are being killed and they are saying nothing.”
The country of nearly five million people is mostly Christian, with about 15 percent Muslims who are concentrated in the north.
The increasingly sectarian nature of the violence has heightened international fears that the nation was on the brink of all-out civil war.
The different religions have always coexisted peacefully and leaders from both sides have urged people not to confuse the fact that there is a Muslim leader, with the “Islamization” of the country.
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