Religious violence rises in CAR

Religious leaders in the Central African Republic (CAR) are working to thwart attempts by some to use violence as a spark for further violence there, the United Nations has reported.

Following an intervention in December by French troops and UN peacekeepers to counter the violent rule of Seleka rebels in the CAR, UN monitoring teams noted attacks launched between communities based on religious differences.

“Too often in history we have seen the political manipulation of religious and ethnic differences result in horrific violations and long-term damage to the social fabric of a country,” Ravina Shamdasani, UN Human Rights spokesperson (pictured) said, noting also that ordinary citizens were responding to calls by their respective faith leaders not to heed calls for religious conflict.

“We have seen young Muslims take it upon themselves to protect churches, and churches are serving as safe havens for internally displaced people, regardless of their religious backgrounds,” she said. “Such developments are extremely encouraging and I call on all religious and community leaders to redouble their efforts to ensure that entire communities are not vilified in the dangerous cycle of violence and reprisals that we have been witnessing.”