This week I went away for few days, to Bouar, to build glass walls for St.Elie’s chapel and to meet with representative of 3 religious communities
(Catholics, Protestants and Muslims).
Trip was ok, usual gags with rebels. In Baoro they stopped me and asked me the same formalities….I played dumb, told them to get pen and paper and write down my details. They said that’s not what they needed. They wanted money. I replied formalities are just writing down personal details. Then I asked if they actually had a notepad and if they could actually write? They got annoyed and let me go.
The work on the glass walls went ok, just a couple of cuts, and the meeting was amazing. Here’s the recap and final message: on the 19th of July 2013, as per Bouar’s Vicar Abbe Mirek, representatives from Protestant, Muslim and Catholic communities met in the Maison de Jeunes. 31 presents. Several topics: pray together, exchange or point of view and our thoughts on the current situation, create a common platform amongst religious leaders and cast a common message to people, authorities and rebels. Meeting started at 8.30 am with a moment of prayer held by a Protestant, a Catholic and a Muslim. After that everyone introduced themselves and Father Aurelio, as facilitator, began with meeting. He said when there’s a fire in a village, everyone comes to help out. Even those who just had a fight. So in the same way with this crisis it’s important that faithful men and women join together for peace.
Every situation, even the ugliest, brings some positive elements, in this case the possibility to gather despite our differences. This crisis will help us be united! Father Aurelio draw the attention to shared points amongst Christians and Muslims. Both believe in a god that want us to take care of each other and to pay attention to suffering. God’s law is against violence. Finally he highlighted that the risk of tension between religious community has sensibly increased with the rebel’s arrival (majority speak Arabic and are Muslim) After a short break, allowing people to get to know one another, we divided in 3 groups and discussed about religious figures, the situation in this country, justice, education , rebels Seleka, lack of authority figures and tension between different faiths. After 45 minutes each group presented their outcome. Finally, around 11.30 we created a small commission made of 2 representative for each community: Father Bassala Ferdinand and Dakabo-Kette Jeovin (Protestants) Sister Felicité Saidou and Bayere Jacques (Catholics) Abdourahmane Goni and Oumarou Sanda (Muslims) The meeting was over, but the commission will plan more. At 3 pm they introduce the Religious Leader Platform to the Republic District Attorney in Bouar (he’s at the moment the highest state figure) On Saturday morning, 20th of July they edited a message that will be red out to all churches and mosques. They organised a prayer day on the 12th of august ( Independence Eve ) Protestants, Catholics and Muslims will merge in the Stadium and pray together. Also in the afternoon of the 20th the commission brought a message to Seleka Rebels: * * MESSAGE E ye gui Siriri we want for nothing but Peace! Bouar’s Religious Leaders Message We, Bouar’s men and women of faith, Protestants, Catholics and Muslims, met on the 19th of July 2013 to answer to our conscience plea about the country’s situation and Bouar in particular. Our faith in God, either if Christians or Muslims, demands to pay attention to sufferings of our brothers and sisters, surrounded by war since many months. No creed, either Christian or Muslim allows violence, murder, theft, robbery, rape. We firmly condemn all of those. We ask forgiveness for all our devoted either Christians or Muslims that did wrong. For those who stole, looted, killed, intimidated. For those who took advantage to get rich or to vindicate themselves. this country has peacefully coexisted for a long time, we do not want it to fall in the nightmare of ethnic or religious war. We therefore make a plea:
*To our brothers and sister in faith:* ·
We invite you all to God’s faith and His law and to coherence. If all believers follow His law there wouldn’t be any war! We remind you that God entrusted us the Creation and every one of us needs to take responsibility for this country and for our brothers and sisters who suffer. We ask to all our communities to open and commit to a heart conversion, prerequisite of any external change. For all of us, Christians and Muslims, we exhort you to work towards forgiveness and reconciliation, in order to keep Ethnic or Religious tension faraway.
*To the Authority* ·
We invite you to rapidly regain your role and purpose! Ruling of law is a prerequisite for Peace. We remind to all civil authorities your duty to listen to your conscience, everyone has to answer directly to God not only for the wrong they did but also for the good they didn’t want to do. We remind that every woman and every man who believes in God and who has public responsibilities needs to respect their faith and God’s law. Civil servants or military personnel we exhort you to pay respect to the oath you solemnly sworn, to be honest and to be of service and to have a respectful attitude towards all people, whatever their ethnicity, religion, sex, political view. Some national matters are more sensitive than others: Education and Healthcare in particular. The State has a specific duty to pay its employees. Also employees must go back to work, so trust and respect will be restored!
** *To Seleka Individuals (Rebels)* ·
As religious authorities we pray for your conversion to stop this endless series of crimes, murders, rapes and plunders. · Please respect God’s law, an through good will, this violence and hatred will transform in love, justice and peace. · We ask to armed men to respect every person, to respect the State and its functionaries. Respect for all, especially women, children and sick people! · We remind Seleka rebels that the State must get back to work and needs resources both financial and human. The development of a country is never through weapons, theft or plunder!
*To all Women:*
All of us, either Christians or Muslims recognize women did often suffering the most throughout the population. As daughters, mothers, wives you carry an enormous burden. We wish for all of you a dignified life, we pray that your sons, brothers, husbands will find the joy for a dignified life, helped by your prayers and your faith in God’s law.
** *To our young generation:*
In order to live in CAR, today, you need a lot of courage! After the recent events this country sunk into misery. It is hard to keep up the hope! We give forth once more the believers hope, so you don’t get disheartened, but you’ll commit to rebuild this country! Do not go after violence, vendetta, easy money, theft, rape, drugs, weapons! These are paths to death. Follow wholeheartedly education, that will give you a chance for a better future. Find passion about work!
Finally to all parents we say: think about your children’s future, send them off to school. It is in their right and also a duty! God bless these efforts to reinstate Peace, Justice and social cohesion in this continent, especially in CAR.