, MARIANI, Feb 25 – Haiti\’s supreme voodoo leader vowed "war" on Wednesday after Evangelicals attacked a ceremony organized by his religion honoring those killed in last month\’s massive earthquake.
The attack on Tuesday in the capital\’s sprawling Cite Soleil slum came with religious tensions rising, as Protestant Evangelicals and other denominations recruit in the wake of the earthquake that killed more than 200,000.
Some of those who have converted have said they did so because they believed God caused the earthquake.
"It will be war — open war," Max Beauvoir, supreme head of Haitian voodoo, told AFP in an interview at his home and temple outside the capital.
"It\’s unfortunate that at this moment where everybody\’s suffering that they have to go into war. But if that is what they need, I think that is what they\’ll get."
The quake also left more than a million homeless and left much of the capital and surrounding areas in this Caribbean nation of more than nine million in ruins.
Police said a pastor urged followers to attack the ceremony, resulting in a crowd of people throwing rocks at the voodoo followers.
Rosemond Aristide, police inspector in Cite Soleil, said he has since spoken with the pastor, who agreed to allow voodoo ceremonies to take place there.
However, Aristide could not explain why no arrests were made nor provide further details.
Beauvoir claimed the Protestant Evangelicals attacked the ceremony along with other people they hired, causing a number of injuries.
He also accused Evangelical denominations of using post-quake aid supplies such as food and medicine to try to "buy souls."
"I would like to see each one of them tied up in ropes and thrown in the sea, and I hope the best of them will be able to catch a plane and run away and leave in peace," the voodoo priest said.
"Because this is what we need right now — peace."
Asked whether he would encourage voodoo followers to respond with the same kind of violence, Beauvoir said he would.
"They have not been aggressors," he said of voodooists. "I think they are aggressed (attacked), and they will have to answer with the same type of aggression. I don\’t mean for (Evangelicals) to die. I am not out to kill them."
About half of Haiti\’s population is believed to practice voodoo in some form, though many are thought to also follow other religious beliefs at the same time.
The religion — whose practitioners often use the vodou spelling as opposed to the Westernized version — is deeply rooted in Haitian culture.
A voodoo priest named Boukman has been credited with setting off the country\’s slave rebellion in the late 18th century, which eventually led to the creation of the world\’s first black republic.
But Evangelicals have been making inroads in Haiti lately.
One Evangelical priest in the middle-class Port-au-Prince suburb of Petionville claimed on Wednesday that more than 200 people had come to his church to convert after the January 12 quake.
"They say that God struck the country," said Sainvoyus Raymond of the First Baptist Church of Petionville, adding that some of those who converted were previously voodooists.
Raymond, however, condemned the attack in Cite Soleil, saying violence should not be condoned and anyone was free to worship in whatever way they chose.
Asked whether he believed the quake was a result of voodoo being practiced in the country, Raymond said no.
He said instead that the disaster was God\’s response to all evil in Haiti, including violence and kidnapping.