Pope Francis on Monday said that Christians and Muslims were “brothers”, urging them to reject hatred and violence while visiting a mosque in the Central African Republic’s capital which has been ravaged by sectarian conflict.
On the last leg of a three-nation tour of Africa, the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholic visited a flashpoint Muslim neighbourhood in Bangui on what was the most dangerous part of his 24-hour visit.
Thousands of people gathered at the roadside, cheering as his popemobile drove down the red dirt roads. As his vehicle passed, many waving Vatican flags and dressed in long traditional robes, ran down the road after it.
“Christians and Muslims are brothers and sisters,” he said after meeting Muslim leaders at the Koudoukou mosque in the PK5 district, the last Muslim enclave in Bangui where tensions remain high after months of violence.
“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,” he said to his mostly Muslim audience.