Allowed to Hope? Stark choices confront Central African Republic

Editor’s Note: Kevin Clarke, senior editor and chief correspondent for America magazine, has reported from Central African Republic and has toured programs operated by Catholic Relief Services. His blogs and stories are being published by Catholic News Service under a special arrangement with the magazine. This story and an accompanying video were filed May 29.

Clarke videoBy Kevin Clark

Green doors and green porch trim mark the small shops that are — or were — owned by Muslims in the Point Kilometer 5 quarter of Bangui, the capital city of the Central African Republic. Many of them are open this morning in early May — more as you cruise closer to the city’s central mosque — and foot traffic seems strong at these small, roadside shops. But just as many doors are shuttered, and many green-trimmed shops are damaged or completely demolished. And closer to the informal border watched over by twitchy anti-balaka “militia,” the shops and the streets are sullen and empty. The Muslims who have taken refuge behind the mosque’s high walls since December know that to go down these empty side streets risks a sudden and brutal death.

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