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Leading Central African imam takes refuge in archbishop’s home

Catholic World News - January 10, 2014

The most prominent Muslim cleric in the Central African Republic is living in the leading Catholic prelate’s home as a refugee, according to multiple media reports.

Archbishop Dieudonné Nzapalainga of Bangui and Imam Oumar Kobine Layama have issued joint appeals for an end to the national conflict, which began in December 2012.

“This country, the Central African Republic, well it used to be like Switzerland,” Archbishop Nzapalainga told a reporter from Channel 4, a British television station. “I went to a school with Muslim boys. We played football together.”

An estimated 1,000 people have died since December as members of Anti-balaka, a network of militias loyal to ousted President François Bozizé, fight against the Islamist Séléka forces who helped bring Michel Djotodia to power in March.

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 December Reuters report. Islamist Séléka members, some of them foreigners, have been attacking Christian institutions, raising fears of genocide. President Djotodia has said that he has no control over Séléka, which he has officially disbanded.

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