Pope Francis prays with Imam in CAR, says Christians and Muslims are brothers and sisters

The Pope said his trip to Africa "would not be complete" without visiting the Muslim community.Reuters

In the wake of violence between Christians and Muslims in the country, Pope Francis today prayed with an Imam during a visit to the Grand Mosque of Koudoukou in Bangui, Central African Republic.

On his last day in the country, the Pope was greeted by the Grand Imam Nehedi Tidjani, along with four other Muslim leaders, with whom he stood and prayed.

In his speech he said Muslims and Christians should work together and be "men and women of peace".

"My pastoral visit to the Central African Republic would not be complete if it did not include this encounter with the Muslim community," he said.

"Christians and Muslims are brothers and sisters. We must therefore consider ourselves and conduct ourselves as such. We are well aware that the recent events and acts of violence which have shaken your country were not grounded in properly religious motives."

He added: "Those who claim to believe in God must also be men and women of peace. Christians, Muslims and members of the traditional religions have lived together in peace for many years. They ought, therefore, to remain united in working for an end to every act which, from whatever side, disfigures the Face of God and whose ultimate aim is to defend particular interests by any and all means, to the detriment of the common good.

"Together, we must say no to hatred, no to revenge and no to violence, particularly that violence which is perpetrated in the name of a religion or of God himself. God is peace, God salam."

Francis praised the solidarity shown between Christians and Muslims in the CAR, which has been rocked by sectarian violence in recent years.

The country has struggled to manage discord since the majority-Muslim Séléka drove out President Francois Bozizé in a coup in March 2013. Though the group has since disbanded, they continued to target towns and villages across the country, which caused the uprising of an opposing Christian faction, the Anti-Balaka. Tens of thousands of Muslims were violently expelled, many fleeing to neighbouring countries.

Both groups have only loose ties with their religious affiliations, however, and Muslim and Christian leaders from CAR have united to condemn the conflict.

These leaders have "played an important role in re-establishing harmony and fraternity among all," the Pope said.

"Dear friends, dear brothers, I invite you to pray and work for reconciliation, fraternity and solidarity among all people, without forgetting those who have suffered the most as a result of recent events.

"May God bless you and protect you! Salam alaikum!"

Following his address, the Pope visited a refugee camp next to the mosque and then gave a homily at a mass at the Barthélémy Boganda Stadium in Bangui.

He has now boarded a plane back to Rome.