Bishop Aguirre reports on the peaceful stance of Christians amid conflicts
"There are no Christian militias killing Muslims in the Central African Republic"
The Catholic parishes are "overwhelmed with Muslims" seeking shelter
Bishop Juan José Aguirre of Bangassou, in the Central African Republic, has firmly denied claims that it is Christians who are spearheading the killing of Muslims, as has been alleged in numerous media sources, in Spain and elsewhere in the West.
“It is not Christian militias who are killing Muslims in the Central African Republic", Spanish Bishop Juan José Aguirre assured representatives of the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN)
"It is true that the Anti-balaka (anti-machete) militias are sowing terror in the CAR", he acknowledged. "But these were originally self defence groups, people who have been brutalised, trampled on, robbed and seen family members murdered by the Seleka rebels since more than a year ago."
Now that the terrorists of the Seleka militias (an armed wing of Al Qaeda) have been weakened and in some cases disarmed, these Anti-balaka groups "have vented their rage, their hatred, and have rebelled against the terrible damage done by the Seleka, and against all those Muslims who did not do anything to stop the Seleka at the time and who, in their eyes, were their accomplices."
"But in no sense can it be said that the anti-balaka is a Christian group. The anti-balaka are made up of people of all kinds, terribly enraged, and including many people whom we call the "dispossessed" – bandits, ex-prisoners, delinquents, criminals – who have got involved in these groups and are now extending, like a plague of locusts, across the whole of the CAR, murdering Muslims", the bishop insisted.
"If there are Christians among the anti-balaka", the bishop of Bangassou added, "then they are a minority of overheated youths, who have rebelled against the Seleka, but as as for the Christian communities as such, in no way are they perpetrating this violence against the Muslims".
In fact, Bishop Aguirre explained, "the Christian Churches are overwhelmed with Muslims seeking refuge. They are living in the parishes and in the Christian mission stations, and they are being taken in by the Christians. In fact it is with horror and with great anguish that Christians are viewing all this violent murder of Muslims".
"The Catholic Church in the CAR wants there to be forgiveness, a fresh start; she desires and is seeking reconciliation; she has no desire either for vengeance or for any further violence." Bishop Juan José Aguirre insisted.
The problem, in his opinion, is the fact that France did not intervene a year ago, when the terrorists of the Seleka raged through the country. France did nothing to check them at that time. But now, he added, if they attempt to stop and disarm the anti-balaka, "it is more than likely that these bandits will simply hide in the bush and turn into highway robbers, which would be an enormous danger for the people of the country."