Reuters blog archive
from David Rohde:
As South Africans cheered President Barack Obama’s speech at the funeral of Nelson Mandela on Tuesday, a nation of 4.6 million people 2,500 miles north was being torn apart by religious hatred.
Muslim civilians in the Central African Republic, clutching machetes and crude, homemade weapons, prepared to fight off marauding Christians. Christians were forming self-defense militias in other parts of a country the size of Texas, to prevent Muslims from slitting their throats.
“We drove through some villages where every single person has picked up arms,” Peter Bouckaert, a researcher with Human Rights Watch, told me in a telephone interview from the republic on Tuesday. “Children as young as 11 have picked up daggers or have knives or even hunting rifles.”
As world leaders praised Mandela’s legacy of tolerance and reconciliation, the international community was still struggling with how to respond to one of humanity’s most depraved acts -- mass killings. Chaos and sectarian killings have steadily spread throughout the Central African Republic since predominantly Muslim Seleka -- “Alliance” -- rebels ousted the Christian president, Francois Bozize, in March.
(Photo: Riot police stand guard near the Orthodox church in Alexandria, Egypt bombed during Orthodox Christmas Mass, January 6, 2011/Asmaa Waguih)
An Egyptian state security court on Sunday sentenced a Muslim man to death for killing six Coptic Christians and a Muslim police officer in a drive-by shooting on Coptic Christmas Eve in January 2010.
Mohamed Ahmed Hussein, 39, known as Hamam Kamouni, had been charged with the "premeditated murder" of the Christians and the police officer and with "intimidating citizens" in Nagaa Hamady in southern Egypt after mass on the eve of Coptic Christmas.
At a Christian-Muslim conference in Geneva this week, participants agreed to build a network for "peace teams" to intervene in crises where religious differences are invoked as the cause of the dispute. The idea is that religious differences may not be the real problem in a so-called religious conflict, but rather a means to mobilise the masses in a dispute that actually stems from political or economic rivalries. (Photo: Coffins of two of 52 killed in al-Qaeda-linked attack last Sunday on a Baghdad church, 2 Nov 2010/Thaier al-Sudani)
If outside experts could help disentangle religion from the other issues, the argument goes, that could help neutralise religion's capacity to mobilise and inflame, in the hope of leading to a de-escalation of the crisis.
Church towers standing in the shadow of mosques symbolise how Christians in the southern town of Nagaa Hamady feel about their relationship with Egypt's Muslim majority that turned violent this month.
from Raw Japan:
In the minds of many people, religious rivalry could occasionally be expected to spill over into violence in places as diverse as the occupied West Bank or Glasgow's 'Old Firm' football derby.
Japan's Kansai region, home to the world's most renowned Zen gardens and some of the country's finest cuisine, on the other hand, is not generally seen as a tinderbox of religious tension.