A man holds a knife to his throat, claiming he is looking for Muslims to decapitate, in the 5th district of Bangui, Central African Republic. File picture: Issouf Sanogo

Cape Town - Senegalese music legend Youssou N'dour and Central African singer Idylle Mamba have teamed up to bridge the gap between Muslims and Christians in the conflict-ridden Central African Republic (CAR), the artists told French media Tuesday.

Sectarian violence in CAR, which has caused thousands of deaths and displaced about 1 million people in just over a year, is based on a political struggle that has assumed strongly religious overtones.

N'dour, a Muslim, recorded the song “One Africa” with his Catholic counterpart Mamba in order to address the issue. “The objective is that Central Africans (see) a Christian who sings with a Muslim. ... The difference in religion is not an obstacle but rather enriching,” N'dour told Radio France Internationale.

The video shows footage of a priest and an imam shaking hands, of Christians and Muslims praying and of civilians marching for peace. It also shows starving children in CAR, as well as burned-out villages and refugee camps.

“I am mortified by what is happening in Central African Republic,” N'dour told French magazine Le Parisien. The conflict in CAR took root when Muslim Seleka rebels rose up against the government in December 2012.

This resulted in the ouster of then-president Francois Bozize, a Christian, three months later.

The resulting tensions have escalated in recent weeks with Christian vigilante groups engaging in violent conflict with Seleka fighters in many parts of the country. In January, the UN Security Council authorized the EU to provide a backup to the 1 600 French and 5 500 African Union peacekeepers already seeking to quell the violence on the ground.