BANGUI – The French and Congolese peacekeeping troops have used excessive violence against anti-France protest by Muslims in the restive Central Africa Capital of Bangui, firing teargases and nitrogen grenades to disperse protesters.
“The problems started as soon as the French stepped foot in this country,” Isa Hassan, the imam of Masjid Al-Noor in Kilometer 5, told Anadolu Agency on Sunday, December 22.
“Normal Muslims have never attacked anyone and even now we hold back, but the French are disarming Muslims and allowing them to be killed by mobs.”
Since their intervention in CAR in December 5, the French troops have been accused of taking the side of the Christian militias, witnessing Muslims’ killing without taking actions to end the carnages in the sectarian-torn country.
On Sunday, thousands of Muslims protested in Bangui against the operations of the French troops in their country.
During Sunday's demonstrations, protesters blocked the road using rocks, metal barrels and pieces of wood to block the road.
Chanting 'Not to France' and 'Hollande is a criminal', protesters raised anti- France signs that read 'French crimes against the Central African Republic'.
“This is a murderous operation, they want to divide us Central Africans,” shouted one protester, AFP reported.
“They have come to impose their will and make us kill each other.”
According to Muslim residents, Sunday's protests erupted after French troops killed three former Seleka rebels.
“The French did this, everyone knows,” Imam Hassan of Masjid Al-Noor in Kilometer 5 told AA.
“I have covered the heads with plastic bags as they were all shot in the head.
“The bags are holding the heads together.”
Eyewitnesses have confirmed Hassan story, adding that there were four corpses in Al-Noor mosque.
The fourth corpse was for a local Imam killed by the Christian militias, according to residents.
The killing of the Muslim suspected rebels has been confirmed by the French troops.
Downplaying Sunday's anti-France protest, a French army spokesman in Paris, Colonel Pascal Georgin, described it as a “clearly anti-French demonstration,” claiming that about 100 protesters have participated.
Amid rising anti-France anger, Muslim representatives have given the French troops a one-week ultimatum to stop their support for the anti-Balaka Christian militias.
“Before France sent its troops here, there was an agreement with the CAR government that French troops will disarm both the ex-seleka and the anti-balaka,” Abakar Sabone, the leader of the former rebel group Movement of Central African Liberators for Justice and former tourism minister, told a press conference in Bangui.
“But when they arrived in Bangui they became bias.
“If the French don’t change the way they conduct their operation by respecting the agreement we shall divide this country into two, the north for Muslims and the south for Christians,” he added.
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.
The French troops have been accused of turning deaf ears to atrocities against Muslims, watching Muslims killed in cold blood.
As the attacks intensified in CAR, many Muslims were forced to leave their villages, living in makeshift camps or mosques.
Amnesty International has released a report last 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.
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.
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