Ethiopian Muslims and Ethiopian Christian Orthodox Demand Religious Freedom for All Ethiopians (SMNE)

May 27th, 2012 Print Print Email Email

Historic decision brings Ethiopian people of faith together in condemning the Meles regime’s interference in their religious practice.

Ethiopian Muslims and Ethiopian Christians are creating history! Leaders of both faiths are now publically supporting the religious freedom of each other and with it, condemning the Ethiopian regime of Meles Zenawi for its interference in the religious practice of Ethiopians.

Such interference has already taken a major toll on both groups. When the Meles regime appointed their own choice for patriarch over the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, it divided the church in two. As a result, many would not recognize the authority of the regime-controlled leadership and began a church in exile in the United States.

The same situation exists for the Muslims although the resulting schisms co-exist within Ethiopia. Such splitting has created divisions within families, villages and ethnicities, disempowering the needed influence of the church and mosque in bringing righteous living and healing to a broken and alienated society.
Leaders have been afraid to speak out for fear of repercussions; yet, the danger of not speaking out has suddenly become a greater threat than can be tolerated. In Ethiopia, the thinking has been, “I will not “move” if my neighbor’s hut is burning, but only if mine starts on fire.” Now, fire is reaching everywhere and Ethiopian religious leaders are taking some truly remarkable steps.

Out of this common experience of persecution and regime interference in religious affairs, a new and promising union between Muslims and Christians is emerging. Ethiopians as a whole are deeply religious people who see their lives and destinies related to God. From the wealthy Ethiopian to the barefoot farmer in the rural areas of Ethiopia to the homeless beggar in Addis Ababa, most attend packed churches and mosques, believing in an Almighty God who is able to bring hope and promise despite a difficult existence. If these people really understand the truth, realize their God-given rights and demand change, this “sleeping giant” can rise up and free Ethiopia from the shackles of oppression overnight.

What brought about this new partnership? In April of this year, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church became aware of the TPLF/EPRDF’s plans to demolish the fourth century Waldeba Monastery and eighteen churches in the Amhara region in order to make way for a regime-controlled sugar plantation.

Their cry for justice was made, but not only by the Ethiopian Orthodox. It was clearly seen on the streets of Toronto when Ethiopian Muslims and Christian Evangelicals joined with Ethiopian Orthodox to condemn the regime’s plans and their interference in religious affairs.

Over the last month, over a hundred thousand Muslims have taken to the streets in various places in Ethiopia to protest the TPLF/EPRDF regime’s plans to once again, for the third time, to appoint the regime’s own choice of leaders to the Supreme Islamic Council as well as to forcibly replace the moderate leaders within the Islamic schools with teachers of more extremist viewpoints in an effort to push a more extremist doctrine on Ethiopians who have always been moderate in their beliefs.

As Ethiopian Muslim’s protested, Meles’ security troops opened fire on some of these peaceful protestors, killing seven. They have also tortured some of those they arrested.

Now, in a historic decision, the head of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church of the Holy Synod in Exile, called upon all Orthodox believers to join their fellow Muslims in their protest against the unlawful intervention of the TPLF/EPRDF regime in their religious norms. They released a public statement saying that what their Ethiopian brothers and sisters were fighting for was the same as what they [Ethiopian Orthodox] were fighting for—a healthier society where people would be free to follow their beliefs and be able to live in unity and peace. Please see the link for the video: This is the kind of society Ethiopians used to enjoy prior to this regime coming into power and promoting religious and ethnic division. Restoration of this respect and tolerance for the beliefs of others is long overdue.

Their public statement of support is a rising ray of hope for the people of Ethiopia who are beginning to see through the regime’s divisive tactics. This is a beginning. This union and marriage between these people of differing faiths must not only be applauded but encouraged. This resolve to stand up for the church or the mosque to be true to its purpose of teaching the people to value righteousness—speaking the truth, valuing human life, upholding the basic rights of all people, speaking against evil and corruption, showing how to love God and neighbor—all can result in bringing life and liberty back to our society.

When religious leaders fail to teach and encourage us to follow the higher path, we can get lost along the way or shirk our responsibility of living out God’s will in our lives. We are to be change agents for good.

Within the SMNE, we are in communication with the leadership of Ethiopian Muslims and Ethiopian Christians. We are very encouraged. This growing unity is a big threat to this regime who even now is attempting to tarnish the image of our Ethiopian Muslim brothers and sisters. As the Muslims reject the Meles regime’s efforts to push Abashism on them, Meles is trying to portray Abashism as being more moderate than Wahabism, and indirectly accusing Ethiopian Muslims of this practice; however, an Ethiopian Muslim leader, Sadik recently told the SMNE:“The only one who wants Sharia law is Meles—not the Muslims. We have been in Ethiopia for thousands of years and have not wanted Wahabism or Sharia law because we have never practiced this. It is not us who are promoting Wahabism, but Meles, so he can remain in power.”

Even on Wikileaks it was reported in a document from the U.S. State Department that the Ethiopian Muslims have rejected this foreign practice of extremism. The Meles regime has slandered the image of Ethiopian Muslims by misrepresenting who they are in reality. The last thing they want is for people of different faiths to embrace each other as human beings first, with inherent worth. As a fundamental principle of the SMNE, we all must put humanity before ethnicity or any other difference in order to bring dignity back to our wounded society.

We Ethiopians who know our unique past of mutual respect and peaceful relations understand that this tolerance between Muslims , Christians, Jews and others is not new to us, but we have fallen away from it partly because we have fallen for the regime’s divisive propaganda. Now our religious leaders are ready to model what it means to love God and neighbor because the mark of our Creator is on the face of each and every human being.

This family reunion between the children of Abraham must reach to the people. Let us show the world that despite our differences we have more in common, our humanity. As we respect the humanity of our people it demands that we stand up for their protection and well being. Their protection is our protection. Their well being is our well being. No one is free until our brothers and sisters are free. This is the NEW Ethiopia for which these religious leaders are standing.

What these religious leaders are now doing is something that the SMNE has been calling for in the past few years and we applaud this bold move at such a time as this. We are glad it has finally come and are more determined than ever to help make this dream come true. We are exploring possibilities of calling these religious leaders together for a Religious Forum on Ethiopia so these representatives of these different faiths can come together in one room to find ways to create a healthy, just and free country.

The goal of this religious forum would be to advance this relationship so as to integrate these ideas into the daily lives within their communities so as to bring lasting change to the country. People of faith are stakeholders and the religious leaders are there to promote values, moral responsibilities, respect for others, honesty, integrity, love and unselfishness.
Leaders like Martin Luther King, Ghandi, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela and others taught religious values as part of struggle for truth, justice and freedom from oppression. When the head of the family disciplines the children and teaches them their responsibilities, the family lives in greater peace; however, when the neighbors fight, their children stop playing together. When they reconcile, the children begin to play together again.

When religious leaders stand together, so will the people and when the people stand together, it leads to mobilization and this is where change can begin. Religious leaders have a critical role to play in building and maintaining a healthy society for it requires spiritual transformation. Love, righteousness and service to others are best taught by people of the Book, not by politicians, and it can be passed on one person to another; however when our religious leaders model this for us, transformation can be accomplished more quickly.

Right now, many Ethiopians may not understand the magnitude of what is happening, but God knows! As we build these bridges and as we accept and practice these principles of loving God and neighbor, we will truly be one family and one people.

May God show us the way, the straight path, as the people of Cush stretch out their hands to God.

  1. Anonymous
    | #1

    Well, at least finally the truth behind who have been dividing Ethiopians intentionally and creating hate between Ethiopians ethnic groups especially to hate the poor and struggling Amharas who have never got special treatments from any leader has come in the open. Ethiopians have lived side by side with their fellow Christians and Muslims for hundreds of years, till the satanic hate filled and racist man got born in that peaceful land of ours, that person is Issays Afewerki who also trained his blood cousin to be worse than himself and end up being one of the most heartless, bloodthirsty and merciless brutal dictator of Ethiopia. Issayas, I hope you rot in hell along with your trained evil subhuman cousin of yours, the Lucifer Meles and for leaving your contiguous diseases called hate, division, miseries to our country and our people. You knew if Ethiopians united and believed in Ethiopwinet you wouldn’t have been able to separate and be the dictator of that province and you two evil cousins created OLF and ONLF. It is unfortunate that some of these people believed and trusted what you two evil cousins were saying about Amharas as truth. Issayas and Meles are responsible for the blood of millions of Ethiopian citizens and Ethiopian soldiers. One of reasons Ethiopia got held behind is because of the billions of dollars Hailesellassie spent to fight the separatists group EPLF and ONLF. It is about time that Ethiopians knew who the real enemies of Ethiopians are: it is non other than the Godless creatures racist and hateful EPLF and TPLF, period!

  2. Gk
    | #2

    Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church of the Holy Synod in Exile, they are busy advocating politics rather than preaching the words of GOd, Please for the fear of GOD, atleast once in you life time, Leave the politics for policians and engage yourselves teaching the words of God and reach out for his peoplr That is your business asa priest.

  3. Gk
    | #3

    Gk :Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church of the Holy Synod in Exile, they are busy advocating politics rather than preaching the words of GOd, Please for the fear of GOD, atleast once in your life time, Leave the politics for policians and engage yourselves teaching the words of God and reach out for his people. That is your business as a priest.

  4. Anonymous
    | #4

    Wait and see. They will be at eachother’s throat next. ‘Kill the infidel! says my muslim brothr’ ….Nothing but Orthodox, ethiopia is orthodox! Go fight to defend your religion!’ says my orthodox christian brother. IGNORANCE, IGNORANCE, IGNORANCE, STUPIDITY, STUPIDITY, stupidity.

  5. selamyihun
    | #5

    Some religious leaders from both faith groups are abusing the religious freedom approved by the Ethiopia constitution of 1995. Never blame the priminster or other authorities of the country while you are not respecting the rights of others.Both groups are trying to manipulate the poor for their power and positon.I do hope both groups might see their approach criticaly, hisotrically,and teaching the values of peace, love, reconciliation and justice to their respective followers. And pray that peace may prevail in Ethiopian society, since peace is another name of development.God bless Ethiopia with all her unity in diversity.

  6. Ewnetu
    | #6

    Can they go home and do the same thing at the Meskel Square??

  7. mam
    | #7

    we all must stand against such arrogant and evile act of z gvrmnt

  8. foziya
    | #8

    yes, this is true nobdy will divide us we keep our culture forever.ethiopian muslim and chirstian we have been lived together with love with out any confilict.

  9. kassu
    | #9

    be peace be with the people of Ethiopia and help there leader to support them

  10. kassu
    | #10

    I am orthodox lived with Muslims of Ethiopia and Muslims of other countries. I have a special love to the Ethiopian orthodox and Muslim religions as they are very understanding one another and helping each another.This togetherness will show that it is not going to be a history and togetherness is the fruit for the future of our country.
    Dear pm can you please do what your people love instead of working for the interest of others.I know it is though but be good to people by forgiving to all and helping understand the lovely country Ethiopia.

  11. Abu Sharmarke
    | #11

    I appreciate this move and ask Allah to bless this unity. We the Ogaden people will be the first who will defend this unity becouse we have been killed and tortured as muslims since Minilk era. This regime is the worst for the Ogadeians. Mind you our girls have never been rabed by an ethiopian soldier in day light before this regime. there was no a prison known as – jeel ogaden – before this regime, where hundreds are tortured and killed. let us work together to frame our destiny together.

  12. Anonymous
    | #12

    #4Anonymous, #5 selamyihun and the likes,
    You criticize our religious leaders for speaking our in behalf of oppressed and muzzled Ethiopians who are living with Iron fist under the most merciless dictator in Ethiopian history. And at the same time you said selamyihun and still supports a bloody-hand dictator who is responsible for Human Rights violations, Uprooting Ethiopians from everything they knew and selling their land to foreigners, Robbery, torture and mass murders, how laughable are you to say let the country selamyihun under dictator Meles knowing the looting the killing going on in Ethiopia. How dare you tell the religious leaders to be quiet while their fellow Ethiopians being abused and tortured at the hands of the brutal Hitler of Ethiopia dictator Meles! There is no religious freedom in Ethiopia; when the Godless Dictator involved in the inside matters of EOTC and assigned an qualified, a drinker and womanizer TPLF member to be the patriarch of Ethiopian Orthodox Religion against the doctrines and the rules of EOTC–that shows there is no religious freedom in Ethiopia. If the Orthodox Religious leaders hadn’t left Ethiopia and tried to speak against the fat unqualified fake TPLF puppet patriarch, they would have been muzzled or assassinated as the fake patriarch and dictator Meles already had committed crimes against the monks for speaking out against what Meles and the fake patriarch doing to their religion and churches. The EOTC is controlled and being looted by one of the most Godless TPLF puppets as we speak.

  13. mojjo
    | #13

    THE WOYANE ARE TRYING HARD TO play the ethnic card to cause split in the muslim community as well as in the chrstian community.

    A MUSLIM CAN BE AN OROMO, AMHARA OR A GURAGHIE, AFAR ETC like wise a christian can be from any ethnic group. This is scary for the woyane. they are scared to see people of all ethnic groups uniting together to defend their faith. The woyane did not expect people would unite in this manner breaking ethnic and tribal barriers.

  14. aha!
    | #14

    I take this theisis statement from the Solidarity Movement for New Ethiopia (SMNE) anchored in the mantra in the humanity before ethnicity, parallel to the mantra pf Ethiopiawinet before ethnicity as an editorial comment titled “Ethiopian Muslims and Ethiopian Christian Orthodox demand religious freedom for all Ethiopians”. This title is supported by the theisis statement, “leaders of both faiths are now publicly supporting religious freedom from each other and with it condemning the Ethiopian regime of Meles Zenawi”(appropriate and suffice to say TPLF/eprdf regime with ethnic agenda) as opposed to the opposition with national agenda for unity, territorial integrity, sovereignity of Ethiopia and Ethiopians.

    Underlying this thesis statemnt, there are two objectives:

    As regards to first objective: in the wake of deforstation of the Baldema Gedam (Monastry) to give way for suar plantation by foreign corporation, and an uprising by Ethiopian Church Leaders, I presume particularly by exiled kidus Synod of the Orthodox church and followers of Orthodox Church, Haji Mohamed seid spoke of the solidarity of Muslims with the Chritian Orthodox Church by declaring: “ሃይማኖት የጊል ናት: ሃገር ጊን የጋራ ናት: ሃገር ከለለ : ሃይማኖትም አይኖርም: ስለዚህም በጋራ ተባረን ሃገራችንን ከቲፋት ኢናዲን”, reflecting the division of Ethiopian land mass into ethnic enclaves of ethnic fedralism and secessionism, I presume. Such a stand touches upon the set up of the constitution in terms of ethnic federalism, secessionism as divide and rule policy in a colonialist style and or partially in the Appartheid system of South Africa of self-rule and separate development, which that is name only and yet the loyalist (ethnic federalist) and supportes from Ginbot 7, are bargaing for “yekilil mengistat yekulent mebit indikeber and or with the notion of “we do not have problem with ethnic federalism by we do not want TPLF to dictate over us”. In addition stands against incitement by TPLF/eprdf regime of conflicts between Muslims and Christian orthodox churches and followers in the burning of the christioan orthodox churches, and confontation over building of both the Mosque and Church over the same site, and now the deforstation of Monastries to allow for largescale plantation to take over by foreign corporations are the bases for calling for a solidarity stance by the Muslim and Cristian Orthodox Leaders.

    The second set of objectives have to do with the way the Muslim faith would like to run their learning institutions, the election of the their religious leaders independent of the TPLF/eprdf regime body politics and the resistance of the introduction of Habashism from abroad and scholars to alter their traditional religeous doctrine native to Ethiopia and Ethiopians in which both the Muslim and Othodox church leaders may also have declared solidarity against the interference of the Ethiopian Gvernment of Melse Zenawi(TPLF/eprdf regime as the appropriate depiction of the regime in terms of political model with ethnic agenda, which includes OPDF/EFDF/fdre with ethnic agenda, commensurate with the Miltary dictatorship of the Derg regime with totaliarinism.

  15. Anonymous
  16. reg dunmall
    | #16

    Your report is wrong. The Government is trying to prevent extremists Muslims getting control not the other way round. As for “poor Amharas” – the trouble is that after 200 yrs of Amhara domination they cannot stand the present government treating all groups equally and having for example two Afars in senior positions in the cabinet. Todays eTHIOPIA is a far fairer society than the imperial AMHARA dominated one i lived in in the 70s. In Meles you have one of the most intelligent leaders ANYWHERE in the world. Get yourselfs back to ETHIOPIA FROM THE SO CALLED DEMOCRACIES OF THE WEST RIDDEN AS THEY ARE WITH CORRUPTION, and help the government take thisc country forward.

  17. Anonymous
    | #17

    reg dunmall,
    As usual you’re another brainwashed woyane who rant your racism without any valid point. Amharas alone never gotten any benefit from one leader as the wicked dictator has done to his province. You’re simply laughable denkoro who doesn’t even realize how awaken the Ethiopian people are from your past dividing propaganda. One must be a total moron not knowing by now how much 85 million Ethiopians despise the most wicked dictator in the world that hates the people and the country. Ethiopians never in history ever been ruled by one of the most hateful, racist, remorseless, cruel, coldblooded, thief, a pathological liar and a senseless killer that has given orders Ethiopians to be incarcerated, tortured and gunned down in every Ethiopian province and their land to be sold to foreigners…never in history! You’re a fool to think any non Woyane Ethiopian would believe your hateful message. For the last 30 plus years, Hitler Meles has been exercising and shown the undeniable and immeasurable hate he has towards Ethiopia and Ethiopians. You’re wasting your worthless time on this website and other Ethiopian websites.

  18. aha!
    | #18

    Mojjo has good points of the Ethiopian Cristians and Muslims united along the national agenda: “hager yegara nat haymant yegil new hageren ketifat lemadan abren ininesa” hager kelele haymanotim aynorim” bemalet.

    So, I say to those parties aligned along ethnic lines with ethnic agenda of the teletafi (ethnic federalist) and those aligned along ethnic lines of the loyalist opposition (ethnic federalist) parties supporting ethnic federalism, secessionism and totaliarinism to align themselves with those with national agenda for unity, territorial integrity, sovereignity of Ethiopia and Ethiopians in order to dismantle and/or remove ethnic federalism, secessionism and totaliarinism from the constitution of the TPLF/eprdf regime, simultaneously.

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