When violence spiralled in Central African Republic’s capital last December, the country’s most senior Muslim cleric sought shelter with the Catholic archbishop of Bangui.
And that month no one was attacked in Lakounga, one of the oldest parts of the capital, where Christian and Muslim leaders worked together to protect the community. Posters were plastered on every street corner with the message: “Christians and Muslims, the same blood, the same life, the same country”.
“Their message is that we are one and we have been living together … for many decades,” Nyeko Caesar Poblicks, East and Central Africa projects manager at the London-based NGO Conciliation Resources, and a frequent visitor to CAR, told me in a recent interview.
Elsewhere in the capital, mosques, shops and houses owned by Muslims were attacked by angry groups who saw Muslims as collaborators of the mainly Muslim Seleka movement. A thousand people were killed in December alone, and hundreds of thousands were displaced.