The interim constitution, known as the Transitional National Charter, provides for freedom of religion and equal protection under the law regardless of religion. It prohibits all forms of intolerance and “religious fundamentalism.” Transitional government officials exercised limited control or influence in most of the country and failed to stop or punish abuses by predominantly Muslim ex-Seleka or predominantly Christian anti-Balaka militias.
The continuing violence by the ex-Seleka and anti-Balaka forces further exacerbated interreligious tension and hatred. Both sides were responsible for violent attacks on civilians because of their religious affiliation and the destruction and pillaging of religious edifices, resulting in some 3,000 deaths and the displacement of more than one million people. Muslims faced social discrimination and were targets of hate speech in some of the print media. Thousands of Muslims faced food and personal insecurity in urban enclaves, while thousands of Christians and Muslims lived precariously in camps for internally displaced persons.
On September 14, the U.S. government resumed embassy operations after a nearly two-year hiatus. The return of U.S. diplomats facilitated discussions about religious freedom concerns with the government and meetings with the leaders of religious groups. In his address to the UN General Assembly, President Obama cited the conflict’s religious dimension and call by Christian and Muslim leaders in the country to reject violence. Secretary of State Kerry condemned interreligious violence in the country and called for reconciliation. The U.S. Special Envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and a group of prominent U.S. Catholic, Protestant, and Muslim leaders visited the country and met with religious leaders, civil society groups, and rebel movements to promote religious tolerance and reconciliation. The religious leaders and members of the various groups signed a declaration rejecting violence and calling for intercommunity and interreligious dialogue.