Life in Bangui has become nightmare for Muslims
ABNA The Central African Republic (CAR) has become one of the most dangerous countries in the world for Muslims, who are increasingly being attacked by both local Christian mobs and militiamen. "Living in Bangui has become a nightmare," Mahamat Sallah, a businessman and one of the few Muslims still living in the capital Bangui, told Anadolu Agency. "I live in constant fear as I drive to work and back because I don’t know when the mobs will strike," he added. Sallah recounted how he had survived an attack by a Christian mob last month as he drove near the Lwakanga suburb of Bangui, where a mob of over 100 people were waiting for any Muslim passing through the area. "They tried to stop me and the road was partially barricaded but I sped and successfully drove over the stones which they had used to block the road," he said. The local Muslim businessman recalled that the angry mob had pelted his car with stones, smashing its windscreen. Muslims have increasingly been targeted since Bangui mayor Catherine Samba- Panza, a Christian, was elected interim president in January. She replaced Michel Djotodia, who had come to power in March 2013 when Seleka rebels – said to be mostly Muslim – ousted Francois Bozize, a Christian, who had come to power in a 2003 coup. Tens of thousands of Central African Muslims and foreigners have fled to neighboring countries in recent weeks following an upsurge in sectarian attacks. Several mosques have been destroyed in the capital Bangui and scores of Muslim homes have been looted. Christians, who constitute the majority of CAR's population, accuse Muslims of supporting the former seleka rebels. Horrifying Machete-wielding Christian militiamen freely roam the suburbs of Bangui looking for Muslims. They mount road checkpoints where they attack Muslims fleeing the country. On Friday, a Christian mob attacked a convoy of trucks carrying Chadian Muslims fleeing from Bangui and killed one person. "Yesterday Christian mobs in Gabongo said they don't want the Chadian nationals to leave the country in peace," Sandou- Jean Pierre, the spokesman for the African peacekeeping force, MISCA, told AA. He said the mobs were determined to kill the fleeing Muslims, but Burundian peacekeepers escorting them dispersed the crowd and the convoy managed to proceed. "I don't think I will ever come back to Bangui or CAR again after what I have seen," a woman who identified herself only as Khadija told AA outside Bangui airport, where she was waiting for a flight to Cameroon along with her three children and husband. "Some of the people I knew were lynched by Christian mobs," she recalled tearfully. "Though I was born in this country, I don’t belong here anymore," added Khadija. On Wednesday, no sooner had President Samba-Panza left after a special ceremony to welcome back army deserters than hundreds of army personnel dragged a civilian from the crowd and lynched him on suspicions that he was a former seleka fighter. Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director for Human Rights Watch who was present at the scene, told AA that the soldiers "set his body on fire, while everybody around was laughing and taking photos with their mobile phones."