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Bishop: religion being exploited for political ends in Central African Republic

Catholic World News - December 20, 2013

The bishop of Bossangoa, a city of 40,000 in the Central African Republic, has told the Fides news agency that religion is being exploited for political ends in the strife-torn nation.

“Two armed groups are fighting each other,” Bishop Nestor-Désiré Nongo-Aziagbia told the Fides news agency. “On the one hand the Séléka and on the other, the Anti-balaka [anti-machete]. Although the characteristic of these movements may suggest a religious conflict between Muslims and Christians, it is first of all a fratricidal struggle among Central Africans.”

Members of the Séléka rebel coalition assumed power in the nation in March and “embarked on months of looting, raping and killing,” in the words of a Reuters report. Islamist Séléka members, some of them foreigners, have been attacking Christian institutions, raising fears of genocide.

The new president, Michel Djotodia, says he cannot control his former Séléka allies. Anti-balaka – a network of Christian militias loyal to ousted President François Bozizé – has become increasingly active. Following the murder of a Muslim whose body was mutilated, Archbishop Dieudonné Nzapalainga of Bangui, the nation’s leading prelate, said on December 15 that “we have become animals, the abuses go beyond reason when someone is killed and his arms brandished.”

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