The Guardian has reported that according to witness accounts from refugees arriving on evacuation flights to Mali, Muslims in Central African Republic (CAR) are being massacred by Christian militias, with the deployment of French troops failing to improve their safety.
On Thursday, a UN official identified “the seeds of a genocide” in CAR, but since Syria seems to be on everyone’s mind it’ll be interesting to see how many Muslims actually focus on the poor African state. Refugee Hissène Ibrahim said, “I was scared. I saw people killed in front of me and cut up like animals. They cut the hand off the Muslim and put it in his mouth. In that environment you end up thinking that if I stay here I am going to go crazy and become like these people who kill people.”
On a side note, something tells me that we won’t hear the routine rhetoric around jihad, probably because there actually is some protecting of non-combatants to do, and not the usual soldier of fortune war booty seeking an Islamic state hysteria. Nor will there be mass rallies in town centres calling on Muslim communities in the West to do “all they can to alleviate the suffering of our brothers and sisters” – it seems these days that our ‘brothers and sisters’ are only important if they have something to do with the Arab lands, no doubt a notion driven by Western Muslims’ obsession and blind commitment to the instructions of Middle Eastern religious personalities, who understandably see the world through an Arab lens. But the thing is, we’re not all Arabs or Middle Easterners; the world is bigger than that specific region and the faithful are scattered across the globe, in some places they are oppressors but in most others they are the oppressed. Thus it is our duty as believers to act on the well-known hadith reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim, related by Anas b. Malik:
“Help your brother, whether he is an oppressor or is being oppressed.” It was asked, “O Messenger of God, we (know how to) help the one being oppressed but how do we help an oppressor?” The Prophet said, “By seizing his hand.”
Our commitment should therefore be to all, in equal measure, wherever they may be, rich or poor, black or white. But there seems to be some indication that the darker the skin tone gets, the lesser the empathy and talk of ummah. In the past few years we have seen a great number of tragedies that have afflicted true monotheists across the globe; but Muslims in Africa, South India and Burma, where some of the most severe forms of repression and inhumane torture have taken place, have been little considered. Africa only comes up in relation to Arab countries such as Egypt and Libya. Perhaps there’s a correlation between many Muslims in the West coming from ethnic backgrounds that have an obsession with skin colour and their subsequent focuses?
But back to CAR, the current bout of violence is said to have flared after growing hatred towards Muslims following the resignation of Michel Djotodia. The Guardian quoted one of the evacuated, Adamou Diabé, as saying, “Muslims are being butchered like sheep. The resignation of the president made the problem worse. You felt that at any moment you could die because they (the Christians) were after us…I have close relatives who were killed because they wanted to cross into the Christian area. All they wanted to do was walk through.”
It’ll be interesting to see how those Christians who continuously blame Islam and all Muslims for the actions of fringe groups like Boko Haram and AQIM now attempt to justify the actions of vast groups of Christian militia. Personally, I think simplistic explanations for conflict in Africa are characteristic of a person’s superficiality and ignorance of the exploitation and plundering that Africa has been subjected to, and the kind of instability it has caused. Likewise, to attribute random violence to Christianity (or Islam) shows a lack of theological awareness as well as dishonest rhetoric.
There are nearly 1 million displaced people in the country and over half of the population is in need of humanitarian assistance. Given the levels of brutality and helplessness, it is unquestionably a moral duty to alleviate their suffering wherever we can.