[ by Charles Cameron — homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto ]
Even today — even in the midst of what amounts to mutual sectarian cleansing — there are glimmers of hope to be found in the thought that Christians and Muslims lived amicably enough side by side in the CAR for Muslim-Christian marriages to be not uncommon before the current outbreak of violence — and in the acts of corporal mercy even now performed by mosques and churches alike for those in need.
Thw two images juxtaposed here are from the Washington Post‘s photo gallery accompanying a piece by Sudarsan Raghavan:
above: displaced persons cared for and fed in the grounds of a mosque below: displaced persons cared for and fed on the grounds of a church
Christian or Muslim, it matters little when there’s a militia war ongoing between followers of the two faiths, as Raghavan reported the other day in his post Christian-Muslim marriages are latest casualty of sectarian strife in Central African Republic:
The door is unhinged and the rooms are bare, signs of that afternoon when Christian vigilantes arrived at Henriette Oumpo’s mud-brick house to kill her husband.
“They broke down the door,” she recalled, her face etched in grief, “and they began searching for him.”
Her husband, who is a Muslim, escaped through a back window. Clutching knives, the fighters looted the couple’s possessions. Then they prepared to kill Oumpo, 60, and burn the house down. But some neighbors intervened and informed the fighters that she was a Christian by birth. So they spared her life — on one condition.
“Renounce Islam,” one of her attackers said as they left. “Or else we will return and kill you for marrying a Muslim.”
And yet, and yet — even today, senior representatives of the two faiths stand together to call for peace:
Muslim, Christian — as a great, dramatic, fictitious Jew once said, in a time when Christian and Jew were the faiths in potential or potent enmity:
I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison us, do we not die? and…
— aah, Shakespeare –
and if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that.
Religion — bane or blessing — or humanity?