Is Mr. Nejib Mohammed Representing the Views of Ethio-American Muslims? – By Kedir Yimam
Recently a delegation was sent to Ethiopia by Bedr Ethiopian Muslim Federation to address the violations of God-given and constitutional rights of Ethiopian Muslims by the present government. (more…)
Recently a delegation was sent to Ethiopia by Bedr Ethiopian Muslim Federation to address the violations of God-given and constitutional rights of Ethiopian Muslims by the present government. A body that is composed of Ethiopian Muslims from North America, Europe and the Middle East met high level Ethiopian government officials including the prime minister, Meles Zenawi. For further reference, a full report of the
As head of the delegation and president of the First Hijra Foundation (the local Ethio-American Muslim association in the Washington, DC area) Mr. Nejib Mohammed has given a number of interviews inside Ethiopia, and upon his return in the Washington area in various media outlets. Those of us who are familiar with the task of the delegation were totally taken by surprise with some of the views that Mr. Najib has taken liberty to entertain and would like to remind readers that it is contrary to the views of the mainstream Ethio-American Muslims. It should be highly stressed that the demands put forward by the delegation to the prime minister are legitimate concerns of Ethiopian Muslims in diaspora, which are still in need of resolution. Although no one expects any tangible and fruitful outcome from the trip of the delegation, the need for the wide dissemination of the demands has been high on the agenda of most Ethiopian Muslims. In fact, some of those very demands came from the utter disregard and deliberate suppression of rights by the very government that the delegation is trying to get answers from.
Although the local Ethiopian Muslim community has been aware of the admiration Mr. Nejib had for the current regime in Ethiopia and the close relations that he enjoys at the Ethiopian Embassy for reason that are unknown, it was the leap of faith that he took in total support of the regime that mostly surprised the Muslim community. In subsequent interviews that he gave during his visit in Ethiopia and upon his return, he went out of his way in praising the achievements of the regime without uttering a word about the injustices that the Ethiopian people are suffering under. Although the reporter did not ask any question pertaining to the recent incident in the Ogaden region, Mr. Nejib went out of his way in an effort to appease the regime and to show his allegiance by condemning the recent attack by Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF). Is Mr. Nejib aware of what the people of the Ogaden are going through under the present regime in Ethiopia? Does he have all the information to pass judgment on the particular incident except the one provided by the government? And is he truly representing the Ethiopian Muslims in Diaspora by taking sides on issues that he is ill equipped to deal with? For further reading on the subject, I encourage the reader to
look into a very critical and educational article on the subject at this site(Click here). Mr. Nejib kept on repeating like a mantra the official line of the regime in all the interviews he gave, including the one with the Voice of America (VOA).
And the final letdown of the Muslim community by Mr. Nejib came at a function that was held by the Ethiopian Embassy recently in honor of who-knows-what. It should not surprise anyone by now that Mr. Nejib is a frequent guest at the Embassy with status of no-need-for-invitation. An acquaintance who was at the same event was at a loss for word regarding the views forwarded by Mr. Nejib in relation to the recent rumor in town that Mr. Meles is not running for office in the next election. According to my source, Mr. Nejib went out of his way in praising the achievement of Mr. Meles and what a great loss for our country it is for Meles not to run for office. No matter what Mr. Nejib feels about the prime minister, the question should be is he representing the mainstream views of the Muslim Diaspora? Whenever Mr. Nejib attends a function at the embassy, is he aware that he is, knowingly or otherwise, representing the local Ethiopian Muslims? Mr. Nejib might argue that he is just expressing his personal views on the matter, but the question remains, is that the perception everyone holds? I don’t believe so.
No one is trying to convince Mr. Nejib personally which side to support regarding the Ethiopian political landscape. As an individual, he has every right to support whomever he fancies; but careful distinction should be made on his part if he is representing an organization and speaking on behalf of it or just expressing his views. It is common knowledge that the Ethiopian Muslim communities in the Diaspora have quite a number of issues with the present regime in Ethiopia as the demands presented to the prime minister as well as other fundamental larger issues of the Ethiopian people clearly shows. There is a common, but erroneous perception on the part of the opposition group (CUD) that the Muslim community is aligning with the Meles regime because of the numerous “benefits” it has achieved in the last decade. And of course every Muslim is aware that this is a blatant fabrication that is hurled against Ethiopian Muslims because it has no factual basis whatsoever. Just to give a slice of history for those who have made a livelihood manufacturing and propagating lies, Ethiopian Muslims have been in a continuous struggle to establish and uphold their God-given rights since time immemorial. Since the downfall of the Haile Sellassie regime, a fraction of these demands were painstakingly and slowly implemented by the Military Junta followed by the present regime. A huge chunk of those demands are still waiting in limbo. And, therefore, for Mr. Nejib to cry at the loss of our “esteemed” prime minister not to be at the helm of power (although I do not believe a word of it until I see it, and if then) to go on trampling on our rights is troubling, to say the least. And if this is a heartfelt opinion on the part of Mr. Nejib, good for him and all the benefits he might loose as a result. But believe me, Mr. Nejib, no one will be shedding a tear if Mr. Meles passes away this very moment, except for the very few who benefited in his royal dictatorship.
And the larger question still remains why Mr. Nejib is embarking in this bold attempt to change the face of a dictator and present him as a savior for Ethiopian Muslims. Forgive me for being direct, but the question has to be asked; Mr. Nejib, have you been recruited and promised some reward on your mission to humanize Meles and present it to us who have been erroneously led to be believe that he is a dictator? Give some credit where it is due, Mr. Nejib, the majority of Ethiopian Muslims as well as the larger population, both in and out of Ethiopia, is politically savvy and sophisticated enough to know what is real and something that is made-up. We have been fooled too many times by snake-charmers, come out of the closet and tell us what this is all about, Mr. Nejib.
More Notes from the Author:
A MISGUIDED ADVENTURE
A delegation from the Ethiopian Muslim Diaspora was recently in Ethiopia to meet face to face with the prime minister and other officials to address the plight of Ethiopian Muslims and hopefully find some solution. There is no doubt that the delegation was prompted with the best of intentions to take this journey sacrificing its time, energy and resources so that a means can be found for the Muslims to enjoy their freedom and equality side by side with rest of the Ethiopian population. But from what I have so far realized to be the crude reality of governance in Ethiopia, failure was written all over this mission because of the inability of the delegates to observe and properly analyze the politics of the governing body.
The mission of the delegation would have made sense if those who are wielding the political power in the land have respect for the rule of law, democracy and fairness. And no Ethiopian is ignorant of this reality since the Ethiopian media, in and out of the country, has exhaustively written on the nature of the ruling clique. The political reality of the land has been very vivid for sometime now unless one is cocooned in some remote island without any access to communication not to know what is going on. Is it rational to expect a fair and just resolution for the plight of Ethiopian Muslims from a government that has repeatedly shown its hatred and disdain for a segment that comprises as much as half the population? If it was a matter of ignorance on the part of the government with regard to the condition of the Muslims, one would extend the courtesy to educate and inform the rulers to make the right decisions so that the rights of the whole population is respected and protected under the law. But if we make the assumption that the government is ignorant of gross violation of rights faced by as much as half the population, did it earn its keep to govern or should we let it stay at its helm no matter what?
A case would have been made in defense of the rulers had it been a matter of carelessness or benign neglect concerning the protection of the rights of Muslims even though it is a stretch to imagine why a government should behave in such a manner. But the reality is hard to ignore and points directly to the governments as the main culprit in this whole political saga. All the blame rests squarely at the foot of the governing elite for the suffering the Muslims are undergoing in the country. But was this fact somehow lost on the delegation in its eagerness to find a solution when it presented its case to the rulers and appeal to their sense of “fairness”? and “justice”? that was not evident during its entire reign? If the delegation sincerely believes that the government is ignorant of the reality and would be willing to remedy the wrongs if it is presented with the facts, I will give them the benefit of the doubt and shall wait to see the outcome of this misguided adventure. But truth be told, I believe it is the delegation that is badly in need of knowledge on the basics of political consciousness to analyze the reality. I can see the ruling elites laughing at the members of the delegates as soon as they left their presence because of their political naivetÃ©. Isn’t this whole episode akin to asking a criminal to be the judge of the very crimes he committed?
The age old system of divide-and-rule was the first commandment that was adopted by the TPLF as soon as it came to power. Since the TPLF was an ethnic organization totally composed of Tigreans, the leaders understood fairly early that they had to adopt the system of sawing discord among the different ethnic groups in order to rule the land since they represent a meager minority to have a full control. And that they did without fail. They adopted the system meticulously and created a social upheaval among and within the various ethic groups the negative effect of which is present to this day. In trying to project themselves as bearers of freedom and equality to the largely neglected and forgotten ethnic entities in the land, they implanted the seeds of hatred among the different groups and became spectators in the fights the ensued.
The TPLF extended that strategy of division within the Muslims by interfering in the internal affairs of the community and creating a body that is counter to the Muslims interest but diligently serving itself. And this is how the Ethiopian Muslim Supreme Council came into being; all along, it was a well though-out plan for the primary purpose of dividing the Muslims. Every Muslim in the land knows that the Council is a TPLF concoction that has become a main hindrance to the struggle of the community. And the delegation rightly understood how and for what purpose the Council was created and addressed the issue to the ruling clique to make some changes so as to make it more useful. But this is exactly where the twisted logic of the delegation stopped making any sense. Since it was the TPLF that created the Council in the first place to serve its purpose, like it did with many other ethnic groups, does it make any sense to ask the dictators to change it in order to serve the Muslims? Isn’t that counterintuitive? In the interviews that the leaders of the delegation gave following their trip, I have come to understand that during its meeting with Meles, somehow the delegation got the gut to ask Mr. Meles to make changes to the structure of the Council and he responded by saying it is the government’s policy not to interfere in the internal affair of the Muslim community. Although I do not believe it is a case of forgetfulness, it was an open secret that the Council was created by Mr. Meles and that the key figures are his henchmen who are obediently serving under his tutelage.
Although it is my sincere wish to see the demands the delegates presented to the authorities get their due respect and resolution to the benefit of the Muslims, I am not holding my breath to see anything of substance to come out of this misadventure. In the subsequent interview since their trip, some of the delegates were caught running their mouth on subjects that they have no knowledge or perhaps deliberately making-up false assumptions in an attempt to mislead the Muslims. In an interview that one of the delegates gave to the local media, he gave credit to the TPLF for all the “transformation”? the country is undergoing and said it deserved to be in the seat of power because it fought for years while the rest of the Ethiopian population was sleeping. I am not quite sure on what basis they selected the members of the delegation, but this is a very bizarre point of view and I dare say this person has been in total hibernation for the last thirty years or lying to his very soul to entertain his new masters. This person does not have to go any further to debunk his careless statement than asking the majority of the Diaspora Ethiopians how they came into this land. The military junta killed, imprisoned and tortured untold number of Ethiopians and the lucky ones made it into every corner of the world. They were made to suffer for the very fact of challenging the rule of the junta as the Meles gang was doing the same thing against the military government in its effort to get the non-Tigreans out of Tgirai. Yes, it was an ugly fact of history that Meles and his gang were fighting to secede Tigrai from Ethiopia and they were not fighting to liberate the Ethiopian masses from the tyranny of the junta as the clueless delegate would have us believe. I can not imagine how anyone can be ignorant of this basic fact and be a part of a delegation to address the rights of those who are disenfranchised. If one is not familiar with one’s own history, he can play safe and keep his quiet, but to brazenly lie about a condition that is still vivid in the memory of millions of Ethiopians to appease a dictator in return for a wishful dream, that is a total sellout. And this very person is no better than Meles whom he is asking a favor from; in fact he is worse because he is speaking in the name of Diaspora Muslims and pretending to fight for a cause.
Of all groups of people who have been disorganized and lacking in political sophistication to play its role in the Ethiopian political landscape, the Muslims of Ethiopia seem to be at the forefront. The Tigrean gangs have formed a fake Muslim organization in the name of the Council and planted their lackeys to give orders and see it implemented in a flash. Loyal to their masters, the yes-men of the Council are the first in line in defense and support of Meles in all issues, big and small, contrary to the interests of the Muslims whom they were supposed to serve. Likewise, in a misguided attempt to influence the policy of the Meles gang, a delegation seemingly representing the Diaspora Muslims, met Meles and some of his gang, and came back to tell us that it was our mistake all along and not that of the regime for the predicament that we, Muslims, find ourselves in. All the struggle the Muslims have waged to gain their rightful place in the land was forgotten in a second when Meles spelled his cast on the group. Mr. Meles played a nice trick on the members of the delegation by lodging them in a nice hotel and letting them see the “wonderful”? work he has been doing for Ethiopia, contrary to the “propaganda”? they have been hearing while abroad. The delegation came back with the message of giving the Meles gang a chance and trying to portray it in a different light that the world has learned to see . Forgetting why they have embarked in this mission in the first place, some of the delegation members did not even realize that they have turned into the exact image of the Council they were opposing. This whole episode brings forth an important observation and we are obligated to ask; is this some kind of power struggle between the Council and the delegation to be in the favors of Meles? Are these two groups two sides of the same coin?
It is high time that Ethiopian Muslims should realize that we should not appease a dictator and seek favors from him to redress our rights, but we should organize and fight for everything that is rightfully ours. We should base all our moves on solid principles that does not infringe on the right of others. We should have the determination to oppose anything and everything that is counter to our rights and beliefs and stand to defend the truth no matter what. When the regime embarked on a misadventure of unjustly attacking our neighbors to avert the attention of the population from what is ailing the country, we should have shown our resolve and stood firm to say this is wrong. When the whole world is demanding the release of unjustly imprisoned opposition party members, we should have made our stand clear and made it known to the government. Whole groups of people have been killed, imprisoned, tortured, fled the country and we did not hear a word from the delegation or whom it is representing in defense of the defenseless. Upon their visit, some members of the delegation chose to see some selected projects of the regime to pass an overall judgment about the welfare of the country, but the truth of the matter is our country is it is next to last in all significant social and economic statistics of any world body worthy of its name. Disease, famine, poverty and all sorts of social ills have become a brand that we have been accustomed to be known. And when the Melees gang is confronted with these facts that anyone can see upon landing even in the capital city, a formulaic response of blaming the previous regimes might have currency for a couple of years, but it has been repeating it for the last sixteen years in case it might have acceptance over time. And the delegation did not bother to ask this pertinent question to the man who was responsible for what we are witnessing in our land.
If it is the belief of the delegation that the demands that it presented to the Meles gang can be achieved in the political climate that Meles is operating, time will tell, but history is not on our side. In order to achieve what is demanded by the delegates and much, much more, we need a free political atmosphere whereby all the demands of the population will be freely entertained and given its proper resolution. In due time, I am sure the members of the delegation will realize the proper form of struggle to realize their goals and prepare for that eventuality. In the meantime, I remind the delegation members not to hold their breath in anticipation of anything substantial to come out of their misguided adventure.