The violence in the Central African Republic has Muslims seeking shelter in Congo in the past months, prompting the Congo government to ban women from wearing full-face veils in public.
Officials explained the ban is “to counter extremism.” Congo joins France as the only countries to ban veils and burqas in the public. France’s law also includes masks and helmets. The burqa is only forbidden if it includes the veil.
The law also bans Muslims from other countries from sleeping at mosques. A spokesman said the mosques are “places for prayer, not sleep.”
Muslims only make up two percent of the Congo’s population. Fifty percent are Christian. The majority of the Muslims in the Congo are from other countries.
The Central African Republic broke out in violence between the Christian majority and Muslim minority in 2013. France warned the United Nations the country was “on the verge of genocide.” The BBC visited CAR in February 2014 and witnessed “mosques and Muslim property which had been burnt.” The reporters rescued over 2,000 Muslim evacuees by the end of their trip.
In January, the United Nations released a report that Christian militias are targeting the Muslims in an attempt to eliminate them from CAR.
“Thousands of people died as a result of the conflict,” claimed the UN. “Human rights violations and abuses were committed by all parties. The Seleka coalition and the anti-balaka are also responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Although the commission cannot conclude that there was genocide, ethnic cleansing of the Muslim population by the anti-balaka constitutes a crime against humanity.”