BANGUI – Destroyed mosques, slaughtered or evacuated families are some of the rare reports about anti-Muslim atrocities that found its way to the international media, while reporting on the unrest in Central Africa Republic.
“Women, children, even pregnant women were slaughtered by the anti-Balaka,” Yahiya Abu Bakr, the chairman of a committee that oversees the local mosque in Bangui, told Anadolu Agency (AA) on Thursday, December 19.
Testimonies on the atrocities committed by anti-Balaka Christian militias against CAR's Muslim community are rare in the international media.
As fingers are always pointed at Muslim ex-rebels, Seleka, as the main culprit, vague or scant reports appeared about death toll among Muslims.
Bashir, a 48-year-old Muslim who lives in the Christian-majority district of Fouh in Bangui, is one of the eyewitnesses of brutal anti-Muslims carnages that tore through the area earlier in December.
“When the trouble started, the anti-Balaka attacked the Muslims in the area,” Bashir, wearing a traditional white dara (a long open cloak) and a white hat, said.
“The local mosque was destroyed, just like my home.”
The 48-year-old resident explained how his younger brother and three others were killed mercilessly before they could escape with their lives.
“The machete hit him on the side of the neck,” he said.
“There were so many people – not just anti-Balaka, but Christians from around the area,” Bashir added.
A similar pain was shared by Abu Bakr, the mosque chairman, who confirmed that more than 108 Muslims from the region have been killed in recent violence.
Abu Bakr has also claimed that attackers used to mutilate Muslim victims and their corpses.
“The anti-Balaka cut off people's limbs,” he said.
“I also saw bodies that had their genitals removed.
“We perform the funeral prayers here, so I know about the injuries sustained by those that were killed,” he added.Biased French
As the violence exacerbates, CAR Muslims accuse French peacekeeping troops of taking the side of the Christian militias.
“We don't trust the French because we've seen their one-sided actions,” said Umar Hussain, a Muslim businessman.
The French troops have been turning deaf ears to atrocities against Muslims, watching Muslims killed in cold blood, other witnesses added.
“They are the troublemakers!” Umar Didi, an eyewitness, shouted.
“People were killed in front of French soldiers who did nothing.”
“How can they just leave people to be slaughtered – and watch while it takes place?” asked Hussain.
About 1,600 French troops, which are reinforcing a stretched African peacekeeping mission, started deploying to the north and east of the country earlier on December to secure main roads and towns outside the capital.
As the attacks intensified in CAR, many Muslims were forced to leave their villages, living in makeshift camps or mosques.
Taking shelter into a Bangui mosque, a Muslim mother tells the story of how her four innocent children were slaughtered before her.
“They killed four of my children: two sons and two daughters,” said Salma, a mother of the slain children who were aged ten, eight, six and two.
“My father and mother were also killed in the attack,” the mother added.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International has released a report on Thursday, following its two-week mission the restive country, saying that ‘crimes against humanity were committed by all parties to the conflict’.
The sectarian war has led to the displacement of 614,000 people across the country and 189,000 in the capital alone, according to the Amnesty.
Moreover, Human Rights Watch has also urged the UN to send peacekeeping mission to restore security in CAR.
CAR, a country of nearly five million people, is mostly Christian, with about 15 percent Muslims who are concentrated in the north where the rebellion started.
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.
Despite of current woes, Muslims in the African nation have asserted their hopes of restoring peace in their country one day, where Muslims and Christians lived in harmony for decades.
“We want peace,” Abu Bakr stressed.
“We are ready to call for it, but the anti-Balaka are the ones that are doing the provocations by killing Muslims and destroying mosques.”
Related Links:CAR Muslims, Christians Sow Peace Hopes
Sectarian Violence Flares In Central Africa
‘Muslim’ Coup Troubles Central Africa
C. Africa Muslims Want Peace