Often times, religion is shunned as the cause of conflict in many parts of the world. In the case of Central African Republic, there are three leaders who have used religion as a positive force in the midst of the ongoing violence.
Pastor Nicolas Guerekoyame-Gbangou, president of the Evangelical Alliance in the CAR, Imam Oumar Kobine Layama, president of the Central African Islamic Community, and Archbishop Dieudonné Nzapalainga have begun working together calling for peace and unity while the country is in turmoil. In fall last year, the leaders traveled throughout the world visitng Brussels, Washington DC, London, New York speaking out against the notion that religion has caused the Central African conflict. Instead they insisted, the conflict has social and political underpinnings. Due to the political coup between former CAR President Francois Bozize, who identifies as a Christian, and now former CAR President Michael Djotodia, who identifies as Muslim. Unfortunately, religion was then used as a form of discrimination and violence to target the different political supporters.
Despite this, the leaders continued to stress that the conflict is a socio-political crisis and that not everyone in the country is violent. They instead spoke about the number of people who went out of their way to protect their neighbors no matter their religion. For instance, during one of their New York visits, they spoke of cases where Christians were sheltering Muslims and vice versa.
In addition to advocating for peace,the leaders also called on the United Nations, specifically the UN Security Council, for a peacekeeping operation. After the establishment of the UN Peacekeeping Operation, two of the three leaders met with the High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay in Geneva.
These leaders continue to work tirelessly to use religion as a platform of peace.
Read more about their work here: