the Mazenod college at the center of an interfaith conflict between Muslims and Christians

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Muslim worshipers stormed the esplanade of Ngaoundéré prefecture last Friday. The latter came to protest against the summons of the imam of the city's Grand Mosque, Sheikh Mahmoud Ali, by the prefectural authorities. As a reason for the summons, the iman is invited to respond to his call for a boycott of the Mazenod college, a Catholic confessional establishment installed in the city since 1954.

At the origin of the facts, a press release dated September 9 asking faithful Muslims to no longer enroll their children in Mazenod college. The cult leader justifies this decision by the fact that this college requires students to wear an escutcheon on which is present a cross. For him this maneuver "Is akin to a subtle method of expertly orchestrated evangelization", on which in contradiction with the Islamic precepts. "It is strictly forbidden for Muslims to wear a cross, symbol of Christianity", meant Iman.

This affair is straining relations between Muslims and Christians. The prefect, Bertrand Awounfack, lets it be known that the main concern is therefore to restore the spirit of living together between the two communities. A concern shared by the Association of Former Students of Mazenod which, in a letter addressed to the principal of the establishment, asks “To change the badge with a new logo that does not show a distinctive religious sign; or else to abolish the rule on the escutcheon ”. For the group these solutions seem the only ones capable of preserving the peace..

For those in charge of the establishment, the wearing of proper attire, that is to say with a badge, is included in the school's internal regulations. Abbot Honoré Ngonzo, principal of the college, is clear. The decision does not target Muslim students as it is led to believe on social networks: "Everything we asked all students to comply with the dress uniform".

While a sabotage operation against Mazenod college is preparing from tomorrow Monday, some parents expect that common ground will be found to allow students to continue their education peacefully.  

The proportion of Muslim students enrolled in this school is increasing. In 2007, the contribution of this tranche to the establishment's funds amounted to CFAF 75 million, according to official accounts. Today, it is estimated that this figure has doubled. 

Vanessa Ngono Atangana

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