Pope Francis has visited a mosque in the capital of the Central African Republic, Bangui, where he met with Muslims who have sought shelter after nearly three years of violence between Christians and Muslims.
The Pope told worshippers in a mosque that “Christians and Muslims were brothers and sisters”.
Most Muslims had left the capital but 15,000 are left in an area called pk5 surrounded by armed Christian militia.
A “New Chapter”
The pope will conclude his visit to Africa with a final mass in Bangui. This is the pontiff’s first visit to a conflict zone and the final stop on his landmark three-nation African tour.
On Sunday, the Pope called on fighting factions in CAR to lay down their weapons.
Celebrating Mass in Bangui, he said they should instead, arm themselves “with justice, love, mercy and authentic peace”.
CAR has been torn apart by violence between Muslim rebels and mainly Christian militias.
It is the pontiff’s first visit to a conflict zone and the final stop on his landmark three-nation African tour.
In an address at the presidential palace, he called for unity and urged them to avoid “the temptation of fear of others, of the unfamiliar, of what is not part of our ethnic group, our political views or our religious confession”.
Conflict blighted the CAR for decades but it was only in 2013 that the fighting took on a religious form.