Pope Francis ventured into one of the world’s most dangerous neighborhoods on Monday to beg Christians and Muslims to end a spiral of hate, vendetta and bloodshed that has killed thousands over the past three years. Under heavy security, Francis crossed into the PK5 neighborhood where the city of Bangui’s Muslims have been unable to leave for months because of the armed Christian militia fighters who surround the capital city’s perimeter. The pope traveled in his open-air vehicle through the neighborhood despite the security risks. Armed U.N. peacekeepers stood guard in the minarets of the mosque.
Those who claim to believe in God must also be men and women of peace.
Pope Francis, after a speech by Imam Tidiani Moussa Naibi, one of the local religious leaders trying to foster dialogue.
About 200 men seated inside the mosque welcomed Francis, who sat on a sofa. In comments to the chief imam, Francis insisted that Muslims and Christians are brothers and must behave as such. Francis removed his shoes, bowed his head and stood silently at the mihrab, or area of the mosque that faces the holy Muslim city of Mecca. The pope’s visit to the mosque marked the highlight of his three-nation African tour, with previous stops in Kenya and Uganda.