Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

No strategy and a beige suit

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 29 August 2014 (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 29 August 2014

Read more

ENCORE!

Alain Choquette: A Hilarious Magician in Paris

Read more

FOCUS

France welcomes Iraqi Christian refugees

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Emmanuel Macron: A new economy minister with a pro-business agenda

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

More of this year's best Observers stories

Read more

#TECH 24

Changing the world, one video game at a time

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Socialist Party summer conference kicks off in explosive atmosphere

Read more

  • EU leaders choose Tusk and Mogherini for top jobs, discuss Russia sanctions

    Read more

  • Dozens of UN peacekeepers still held by Syrian jihadists

    Read more

  • Opposition protesters clash with Pakistani police outside PM's house

    Read more

  • Austerity row overshadows French Socialist’s annual rally

    Read more

  • Egypt sentences Brotherhood leader Badie to life

    Read more

  • Ceasfire allows Gaza families to relax on the beach

    Read more

  • S. Africa condemns 'military coup' in Lesotho

    Read more

  • Kerry calls for 'coalition of nations' to battle IS militants

    Read more

  • Ukrainian plane with seven on board crashes in Algeria

    Read more

  • Exclusive: Fabius warns Russia of more sanctions

    Read more

  • IMF backs Lagarde amid French corruption probe

    Read more

  • Ebola drug ‘ZMapp’ heals all monkeys in study

    Read more

  • British killer escapes from French psychiatric hospital

    Read more

  • Police hunt for British boy with brain tumour taken to France

    Read more

  • Ukraine to relaunch NATO membership bid

    Read more

  • Suriname leader’s son pleads guilty to courting Hezbollah

    Read more

  • Mapping Ukraine: Canada and Russia in ‘tweet for tat’ row

    Read more

Africa

Report: CAR’s Muslims say French forces failing to protect them

© Photo: AFP

Video by Ben BARNIER

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-01-26

Only a few days into her presidency, already the scale of problems facing the Central African Republic’s (CAR) new interim leader, Catherine Samba-Panza, is all too apparent.

Fresh inter-religious violence erupted in the capital Bangui over the weekend, prompted by the killing of a prominent Muslim politician by Christian vigilantes.

Former minister Joseph Kalite, who once held the housing portfolio, was hacked to death by machete-wielding militiamen on Friday in the latest example of tit-for-tat violence between Muslims and Christians in the country.

Samba-Panza has vowed to do everything in her power to stop the bloodshed, which began after former members of the mostly Muslim rebel Seleka group unleashed a wave of killings and looting in the capital, prompting revenge attacks by Christian militia known as "anti-balaka".

But CAR’s new president is almost entirely dependent on assistance from the 1,600 French troops deployed to the country as part of Operation Sangaris as well as the 5,000 African Union peacekeepers in CAR, troops that many of Bangui’s Muslim residents believe are doing little to protect them.

‘We are still suffering’

In the capital’s Muslim neighbourhoods, such as PK5, residents say they feel abandoned by the French and African forces, whom they accuse of siding with the Christians.

"People tell us that the Sangaris forces came here to help us, but nothing is happening. We are still suffering,” one of PK5’s Muslim residents told FRANCE 24.

“I think we should split the Central African Republic. We should have our own part; we should only live with our Muslim brothers, because now we are suffering too much. No one supports us,” she said.

Taking advantage of the disbanding and disarming of some Seleka forces, anti-balaka bands have stepped up their revenge attacks on the minority Muslim population they accuse of colluding with the rebels.

On Friday, Amnesty International said its researchers had found evidence that anti-balaka had killed more than 50 Muslims last week in two attacks northwest of Bangui.

It also believes French and African peacekeepers need to do more to protect CAR’s Muslim population.

"International peacekeeping forces are failing the Muslim community," said Joanne Mariner, the group's senior crisis advisor in Bangui.

“Scores of people were left unprotected from vicious anti-balaka reprisals at a time when such attacks were entirely predictable.”

‘My only option is to leave’

Outside the mosque in PK5, where a number of families displaced by the violence have made a temporary home, one woman told FRANCE 24 that fleeing the country altogether is the only way for her to be safe.

“My only option is to leave the Central African Republic and flee to Chad. I don't have any other options,” she said.

Thousands of other Bangui Muslims have already made the journey across the border to neighbouring Chad to escape the unrest. Samba-Panza's plea for them to return home has largely fallen on deaf ears.

Those who have remained behind are feeling trapped and vulnerable.

“I am shocked by the discrimination against Muslims in this country,” says one man in PK5.

“Christians can come here to PK5 without a problem, but as soon as a Muslim leaves PK5 and finds himself in another Bangui neighbourhood, he is in trouble. That's unacceptable.”

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)

Date created : 2014-01-26

  • CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

    Catherine Samba-Panza sworn in as new CAR president

    Read more

  • CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

    Video: CAR refugee family returns home to Bangui

    Read more

  • CENTRAL AFRICA REPUBLIC

    Gunmen in deadly ambush on civilians in CAR

    Read more

COMMENT(S)