Christians, Muslims are ‘brothers’, pope says in Central African Republic

Pope Francis on Monday said Christians and Muslims were “brothers”, urging them to reject hatred and violence on a visit to a mosque in a Muslim neighbourhood of the Central African Republic’s capital Bangui.

Pope Francis is welcomed by Imam Tiding Moussa Naibi, left, on his visit at the Central Mosque in Bangui's Muslim enclave of PK5, in the capital of Central African Republic. Jerome Delay / AP Photo
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BANGUI // Pope Francis on Monday said Christians and Muslims were “brothers”, urging them to reject hatred and violence on a visit to a mosque in a Muslim neighbourhood of the Central African Republic’s capital Bangui.

“Christians and Muslims are brothers and sisters,” he said in an address at the central Koudoukou mosque in the PK5 district on the most dangerous part of his 24-hour visit to the war-torn nation.

“Those who claim to believe in God must also be men and women of peace,” he said in the district of flimsy shacks and red dirt roads which has been at the heart of recent sectarian violence pitting Muslim rebels against Christian vigilante groups.

“Together, we must say no to hatred, to revenge and to violence, particularly that violence which is perpetrated in the name of a religion or of God himself. God is peace, salam,” he said on a visit which has seen him send a message of peace and reconciliation.

Addressing residents crowded into the mosque, Pope Francis said his visit to the Central African Republic “would not be complete if it did not include this encounter with the Muslim community”.

* Agence France-Presse