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INTERVIEW DU CARDINAL DIEUDONNÉ NZAPALAINGA ET DE L’IMAM ABDOULAYE OUASSELEGUE PAR MICHEL VEUTHEY ( 15 SEPTEMBRE 2021)

INTERVIEW DU CARDINAL DIEUDONNÉ NZAPALAINGA ET DE L’IMAM ABDOULAYE OUASSELEGUE  PAR MICHEL VEUTHEY ( 15 SEPTEMBRE 2021)
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Depuis 2013, la République Cen­trafricaine s’en­lise dans un con­flit qui opposent groupes armés chré­tiens et musul­mans. Pen­dant que les dia­mants et l’or sont com­mer­cial­isés dans l’in­dif­férence glob­ale, un car­di­nal et un imam lut­tent ensem­ble pour la coex­is­tence inter­re­ligieuse car, pour eux, cette guerre n’a rien à voir avec la religion.

 

Le Car­di­nal Dieudon­né Nza­palain­ga et l’I­mam Abdoulaye Ouas­se­legue étaient à Genève (Suisse) pour la présen­ta­tion du lance­ment du film “SIRIRI Le Car­di­nal et l’I­mam” : https://www.outside-thebox.ch/siriri/ — depuis 2013, les rebelles instru­men­talisent la reli­gion et poussent chré­tiens et musul­mans à s’entretuer. Des chefs de guerre con­trô­lent la qua­si-total­ité du ter­ri­toire et ses ressources. à tra­vers la brousse ou la forêt, avec son équipe, le car­di­nal remonte les pistes au volant de son 4×4, tra­verse des riv­ières et des bar­rages. Sans aucune dis­crim­i­na­tion con­fes­sion­nelle, il écoute le peu­ple et recueille les témoignages. Il récon­forte les cœurs brisés, tente d’apaiser la colère et de ramen­er à la rai­son les hommes en armes. Inlass­able­ment et d’une même voix avec l’imam Kobine Lamaya, le car­di­nal implore le peu­ple à ne pas tomber dans le piège habituel, à ne pas suc­comber à l’usure de ce sce­nario répéti­tif. Leurs seules armes sont la foi, le bon sens et un mes­sage fort: « Nous sommes tous frères et sœurs, tous Cen­trafricains. » À l’image de son men­tor le pape François, le car­di­nal n’hésite pas non plus à deman­der que jus­tice soit faite, que les autorités et la com­mu­nauté inter­na­tionale pren­nent leurs respon­s­abil­ités et se deman­dent aus­si à qui prof­ite ce con­flit. Qui vend les armes aux rebelles, qui achète l’or et les dia­mants et où par­tent-ils ? Ce film se veut une parabole exac­er­bée des prob­lé­ma­tiques con­tem­po­raines : le partage des richess­es, le pou­voir des armes, le détourne­ment des paroles saintes et la mise à l’écart con­tin­ue des périphéries du monde. Porté par deux hommes réso­lus, ce film inter­roge l’ordre du monde, le vivre ensem­ble et les balis­es qui réson­nent en cha­cun de nous. Au-delà du témoignage his­torique sur une tragédie oubliée, le réal­isa­teur de Sìrìrì voit son film comme un film d’aventures poignant, une célébra­tion frater­nelle, un film qui soit une inspi­ra­tion pour cha­cun de nous. L’Imam Oumar Kobiné Laya­ma qui a créé avec le Car­di­nal Dieudon­né la plate­forme des reli­gions et des con­fes­sion de la Rébpublique Cen­trafricaine est décédé fin 2020 et a été rem­placé à la tête de la plate­forme par l’I­mam Abdoulaye Ouas­se­legue dans ce com­bat pour la dig­nité et la paix du peu­ple centrafricain.

 

INTERVIEW OF CARDINAL DIEUDONNÉ NZAPALAINGA AND IMAM ABDOULAYE OUASSELEGUE BY MICHEL VEUTHEY ( 15 SEPTEMBER 2021) 

 

MICHEL VEUTHEY: Emi­nence, Excel­len­cy,  thank you  for com­ing to Gene­va to bring this  mes­sage of dia­logue and fra­ter­ni­ty  that the Plat­form of Reli­gions and denom­i­na­tions  in the Cen­tral African Repub­lic  is try­ing to spread thanks to the efforts of both of you.  Today, I’d like to ask you the ques­tion:  what does this Plat­form do?  What are the dif­fer­ent faiths doing in the Cen­tral African Repub­lic  against human trafficking?

 

CARDINAL NZAPALAINGA: Thank you for giv­ing us the floor.  The Plat­form of Reli­gious Denom­i­na­tions  was found­ed in the midst of a cri­sis.  This means that ordi­nary Cen­tral Africans  were humil­i­at­ed, mis­treat­ed and not con­sid­ered.  The chil­dren were enrolled in the groups.  Many women were raped.  Human rights were no longer respect­ed.  We stood up as fathers,  because the man in charge of the plat­form, is a shep­herd,  he must take care  of his sheep, and we stood up and said, “No,  we can’t keep killing,  rap­ing, destroy­ing,  mort­gag­ing our chil­dren’s future.”  Why did we get up?  To go and meet those who have tak­en up arms and tell them:  this child you enlist­ed,  who is inno­cent, admit­ted­ly enthu­si­as­tic.  That’s why they’re can­non fod­der.  You, you have the future.  Some­times we ask ques­tions to peo­ple and tell them, the lead­ers:  “Do you have your son in the group?”  In gen­er­al, they say no to me,  they don’t have their son. “You don’t have your son,  so why is anoth­er’s son in this group?  Is your wife in the group? No. ”  If what has been done,  you’re doing to this woman, rap­ing her,  if we did it to your wife, would you be hap­py? No.  We are here to raise aware­ness,  to say that there are things we can­not tol­er­ate.  There are things that destroy us.  There are things, real­ly, that humil­i­ate us  and which show that the human being has lost his val­ue.  We must have the courage of truth,  to go to those who only have weapons  to talk to them and that’s one of the roles,  one of the mis­sions that the Plat­form not only tells  in the dis­tance to jour­nal­ists,  but to go in front of the exe­cu­tion­ers,  in front of those who have only weapons to tell them. The role also,  the mis­sion of the Plat­form, is to ques­tion the gov­ern­ment,  because in a coun­try,  a gov­ern­ment is respon­si­ble for pro­tect­ing the pop­u­la­tion.  When we see that dig­ni­ty is threat­ened,  in our mot­to, there is : Uni­ty, Dig­ni­ty, Work,  dig­ni­ty is threat­ened.  Gov­ern­ment, what are you doing?  Peo­ple are cry­ing,  since we become spokesper­sons of these peo­ple  who are in the vil­lages and do not see the polit­i­cal author­i­ty,  the admin­is­tra­tive author­i­ty,  the judi­cial author­i­ty com­ing and meet them.  Take respon­si­bil­i­ty.  That is also our role.  In a coun­try as frag­ile as ours, which is  emerg­ing from a cri­sis that is still ongo­ing,  there is the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty that is present,  this com­mu­ni­ty through the Blue Hel­mets,  through the civil­ians work­ing or human­i­tar­i­ans, we say  you can also make a con­tri­bu­tion to help  so that this woman who has been raped,  can be treat­ed in a rea­son­able amount of time,  to avoid neg­a­tive con­se­quences.  You can also give your con­tri­bu­tion, Unicef  so that the child is not always in this group enrolled,  and we can inte­grate him  so that he can look for a job lat­er on to work.  You can also make a con­tri­bu­tion  if you can give an alter­na­tive to these peo­ple  who took up arms, so we can leave the pop­u­la­tion to  go about their busi­ness freely, not to take the pop­u­la­tion hostage.  You see here some exam­ples of the com­mit­ment,  the mis­sion also of the Plat­form,  and of each reli­gion, that we car­ry out  to those you have called,  who are suf­fer­ing  or who are still con­sid­ered to be vic­tims of  traf­fick­ing, which are aban­doned  and we come to their res­cue to make pleas  and that we are here to hold their hands,  to con­sole them, to encour­age them,  to direct their com­plaints, their griev­ances  in the right direction.

 

MICHEL VEUTHEY: Thank you, Emi­nence. And you, Excel­len­cy,  what can you tell us about this?

 

 

 

IMAM ABDOULAYE OUASSELEGUE: You know that this is a very wor­ry­ing sub­ject for  us reli­gious,  because our fight  is to give every liv­ing being its dig­ni­ty,  it’s in the Holy Scrip­tures,  and there­fore our work at the lev­el of the Plat­form,  but also in the con­gre­ga­tions,  we rely much more on on the words.  We don’t have a prison,  we don’t have a law enforce­ment agency.  Our repres­sive force,  is the scrip­tures.  These scrip­tures  con­trast with the meth­ods of bar­barism,  the meth­ods of humil­i­a­tion  and the meth­ods that deprive the per­son of his or her rights.  That is why we preach  through our lec­tures, our hom­i­lies,  our preach­ing.  We call on every­one to respect the right of women.  The woman  is a crea­ture that I would describe as pre­cious  for the future of the entire uni­verse,  for the future of soci­ety.  For us,  we are bas­ing this on the fact that  the woman is the first edu­ca­tor  of the off­spring  because it is she who gives the first care,  so she deserves respect, she deserves that val­ue, that hon­or.  So for us,  it is out of the ques­tion  to make her suf­fer dis­hon­or.  That’s why I base myself on the teach­ings of Islam.  That’s why it’s for­bid­den, even for a man,  to have a rela­tion­ship out­side of mar­riage with a woman.  If it’s already for­bid­den to have a rela­tion­ship out­side of mar­riage with a woman,  what does this mean?  This means that you would first have to meet cer­tain cri­te­ria,  cer­tain steps to be able to  be in com­mu­nion with a woman  and pre­tend to share  the same hope, the same future with this woman.  She becomes one body with you  and you form a house­hold.  If you’re going to have chil­dren, you have to edu­cate those chil­dren.  It’s quite a process for us to pro­tect a woman.  So,  in the end, we are in a State.  The State is orga­nized.  For us, most of the time,  if there are things, we denounce  pub­licly.  We raise our voic­es.  We talk,  we index,  but it is up to the State to take its respon­si­bil­i­ties  to be able to get their hands on the gravedig­gers,  those who vio­late women,  those who humil­i­ate women.  The State must get its hands on  based on infor­ma­tion, cred­i­ble infor­ma­tion.  That’s what we do every day.  This is to reas­sure you  that we, as reli­gious enti­ties,  you raise for us a sub­ject that con­cerns us on a dai­ly basis,  this is our dai­ly work, the pro­tec­tion of women and children.

 

MICHEL VEUTHEY: Thank you very much.  Per­haps you would like to add a word,  what does, for exam­ple, parish­es  or local groups  do to rein­te­grate peo­ple who have been traf­ficked,  whether they are chil­dren who are demo­bi­lized from armed groups,  or women that we man­age to get out of pros­ti­tu­tion,  whether they were adults who worked in mines or in agri­cul­ture  and that we man­age to rein­te­grate into their group,  that we man­age to get, I would say, on their feet,  and out of slavery?

 

CARDINAL NZAPALAINGA: As you ask the  ques­tion direct­ly, I will answer you direct­ly as well,  the Catholic Church.  I take the case of women who have been raped  and some­times have lost their hon­or in some places and  where some­times men reject them.  We have a place,  we built a house to say,  the kind of peo­ple who are not well regard­ed else­where,  we’ll take them in. Well done.  They will cul­ti­vate the field.  They’re going to redo the plan of their lives  and maybe they can still leave  to find the path of hope.  At first, it’s noth­ing.  There are a few peo­ple there,  but that’s the point.  We are look­ing to build a cen­ter for these young peo­ple.  We already have the Sale­sians of Don Bosco  who work with young peo­ple.  They take care of young peo­ple who are in these dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tions  and they give them the chance, often to learn a trade,  and be able to insert them, to be able to launch a  new future, so I think that’s impor­tant too.  We have women,  a group called the “Chris­t­ian Women”,  who spot oth­er women who are reject­ed.  We’re work­ing to inte­grate them because it’s not easy,  when you have been raped, point­ed out et cetera,  well, there would have to be some who would defend you  and who are like inter­me­di­aries  to help you find your place and that you are a vic­tim.  You are not an exe­cu­tion­er, so we don’t add evil to evil again  to exclude you from soci­ety.  So there’s this work that’s being done too and oth­er.  We ask each and every one to be atten­tive.  There is the Jus­tice Com­mis­sion, that is true,  the Jus­tice and Peace Com­mis­sion which is atten­tive in the neigh­bour­hood  to see if there are any such sit­u­a­tions  with the pros­ti­tutes,  sit­u­a­tions with per­haps oth­er peo­ple,  to see how to restore jus­tice.  How can we make sure that peace returns in soci­ety,  in the hearts of some and also in the com­mu­ni­ty.  That is the role,  these are some of the steps that we do at the parish lev­el  or even at the lev­el of cer­tain groups,  at the lev­el of cer­tain con­gre­ga­tions,  which has as its voca­tion to com­mit itself to help chil­dren.  That’s what I can tell you.

 

MICHEL VEUTHEY: Thank you. Very inter­est­ing.  Would you like to add anything?

 

IMAM ABDOULAYE OUASSELEGUE: Just a lit­tle bit at the lev­el of the Plat­form.  The Plat­form, today, is struc­tured.  There is a Youth Com­mit­tee  that deals with the con­cern of youth.  There is also an office that deals with wom­en’s affairs.  In this office…  Every­thing that con­cerns women,  some­times it becomes a taboo.  We can’t talk about this with just any­one.  Now, women among them­selves,  it’s eas­i­er to deal with the issues that con­cern them.  That’s why there’s an office there  that deals with these issues.  Women abused, raped  or who have suf­fered dis­hon­our are some­times iden­ti­fied, list­ed.  There is an approach that is some­times tak­en  to come to their res­cue.  I would go even fur­ther, to help them gain access to jus­tice.  Very good.  There are already mech­a­nisms in place.  This is at the lev­el of the Plat­form of  reli­gious denom­i­na­tions, of which we are the rep­re­sen­ta­tives.  At the denom­i­na­tion­al lev­el, as the Car­di­nal said,  at the lev­el of the Supreme Islam­ic Coun­cil,  we have an office called Nation­al Office of Mus­lim Women.  In this office, there is a com­mit­tee  that takes care of orphans, wid­ows  and abused women.  It’s very hier­ar­chi­cal and the sub­ject is dealt with at that lev­el.  We can’t afford to put in the pub­lic are­na  the prob­lems that con­cern this dis­hon­oured class of peo­ple.  But we are aware of this sit­u­a­tion.  This is why mech­a­nisms are put in place  to deal with the issue.

 

MICHEL VEUTHEY: Very well.  Thank you very much. I know you are expect­ed,  so I would like to not only thank you  but real­ly wish you suc­cess in all that you do,  and also that the mes­sage that you have tried to car­ry  in the film “Siriri, the Car­di­nal and the Imam”  is real­ly well under­stood  and that your work on behalf of vic­tims of traf­fick­ing, to pre­vent traf­fick­ing,  to fight it, to reha­bil­i­tate all these vic­tims can con­tin­ue.  In any case, thank you.  Best wish­es.  I hope we stay in touch  and that we can sup­port your action. Thank you.

 

L’Imam Oumar Kobiné Layama

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